Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Oh, the Things Parents COULD Say!

If parents could learn to laugh at childish things, most homes would be a lot calmer.  But parents  respond with gravity – as if their child had a PhD in the subject at hand and deserved an academic discussion!

American parents are very good at taking their children seriously – way too seriously.   A Mom recently announced that from now on the children would be doing regular chores (GOOD leadership!).  But one of the kids shot back, dripping with sarcasm; “So what are YOU going to be doing while we do ALL the work.”  Mom lost it, yelled that she does all the cooking and cleaning and shopping and laundry and picking up and chauffeuring, and she is sick and tired of being talked to like this….. kids didn’t listen to one word!

A better response?  “Oh yes while you do the work, I am going to be on the sofa, eating chocolates and watching TV.”  After which, Mom would smile and walk away.

Not every comment deserves a serious answer!

Parents often get caught off guard when their kids throw a zinger. That is one reason why I recommend taking 2 or 3 steps backward and giving yourself a chance to think about what is going on and what your response ought to be.

Here are some useful stock phrases that can either be your final word on a non-negotiable subject or buy you some time to come back with your final answer.
  • ·         Child doesn’t like your direction and is screaming at you.  “Well when I was your age, I probably wouldn’t have liked this either”.
  • ·         Child asks for something to which you say no and she starts begging and hammering with WHY to everything you say.  Good leadership responses are “Because I said so” or “Because I am the grown up”.
  • ·         Child is defiant and refusing to go along with your directions.  “Well, Brian, you make your decisions and I will make mine”.  At a later, calm point you implement a consequence that presents itself and tell him it is because he didn't follow your earlier directions.  This suggestion is hard to do because you are angry at the defiance, but it defuses the moment and you remain completely in charge.
  • ·         Similar statements are “I guess you will just have to paddle your own canoe”; “Well I think I am just going to let you stew in your own juices on this one”; and “Life isn’t always fair”.  After which you must calmly walk away.
  • ·         Child interrupts you whenever he wants something.  A calm “Really?” combined with “THE LOOK” is a great response.
Most of these replies do not resolve the issue.  They just end the discussion and give the child the chance to let your message sink in.  Sometimes that is all they need!

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