Tuesday, September 4, 2012
The Prince and Princess
Some children believe they are the center of the universe. They can be demanding or adorable -whatever behavior is needed to get what they want; right now, immediately.
Their parents allow these behaviors to keep the peace or protect their child’s “fragile” self-esteem. But one day they wake up with defiant, disobedient children and wonder how they got into this mess. Parents report children who tell them: “I make the rules, not you”; refuse to do what they are told, defy authority at school and throw tantrums long after “the terrible twos”.
Most parents don’t consciously seek this outcome! They enjoy treating their children, their friends raise children the same way, they want their children to have things they didn’t have when they were kids. But all that focus on ME with no regard for others teaches kids that they deserve whatever they want.
The very first thing I teach parents, is to simply become the adults in charge – to use leadership speech, to assume their legitimate authority, and to absolutely mean what they say when giving directions. Don’t explain yourself, don’t bargain, don’t threaten, don’t give second chances.
Some very simple things that parents have implemented:
Tantrums – Give your child permission to scream whenever he wants; but only in one location – such as the bathroom! Tell him tonight about the new rule and start it tomorrow. Two families I worked with were sure it wouldn’t work – said the child would come out of the room repeatedly, or destroy the room. But in both of those instances, simply telling the child the rule (very calmly, very clearly) stopped the behavior. Neither family ever had to use the room!!!
Unbuckling the car seat – What a neat skill when your child first figures this out. He is proud of himself and utterly delighted with the ruckus he can create! Take your child for a ride when you have spare time. As soon as he unbuckles, pull over and calmly tell him you can’t continue until he buckles. Turn on the radio, read a magazine and ignore him. When he buckles, continue on. When he unbuckles, pull over….. You may pull over 5 or 6 times, but if you mean it, he will get the message.
Chores - Set a time for them to be done and then walk away; don’t remind, don’t nag. Come back at the appointed time to check if it is done. For several parents, just walking away looked SO different from the usual nagging and micromanagement, that the child accepted the leadership and followed the direction. Others had to impose a consequence for chores that didn’t get done. But the point is leadership skills ALONE often do the trick!!!!
Well led children learn they are not the most important people in the world – and that lays the ground work for becoming good citizens, both in their home and the world around them!