Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Walk Away - When You Want Your Child to Obey!

Helicopter parents!  Micromanaging parents! Why do they do it?  To keep their kids safe?  To make sure their instructions are followed? To be seen as a good parent?

Probably a lot of reasons.  But it is a habit that is sure to backfire because whatever they achieve in the short run, is often lost in the long run.  Why?  Because micromanaged kids don’t learn how to assume responsibility for themselves!  If you are following and reminding when your child is 5, unless you teach him some independence, you will be still be reminding when he is 16 or 18 or 25!!!!

Besides, most children just don’t like being micromanaged!  While parents think watchful attention is necessary for safety and obedience, kids often rebel and you get the opposite effect.  And even if the kids do obey this time, there is no guarantee they will the next time! 

The Rosemond leadership parent gives instructions once – clearly and concisely.  There are no threats or bribes in the instructions.  The parent, having issued instructions that he expects to be obeyed, simply walks away.  When parents consistently, reliably give direction in this manner, they are definitively more likely to be obeyed.

But if their child chooses to ignore them or misbehave, they don’t obsess over it.  They simply wait for a strategic moment to issue a consequence that will capture their child’s attention.  And the next time a clear instruction is issued, the child’s likelihood of obeying has suddenly increased tenfold!  In the process, he learns responsibility.

Parents tell me they want their children to obey immediately.  If they announce it is time to pick up the toys, they stand there and wait for the child to start.  If their child isn't fast enough, thorough enough or mutters under his breath, the parent pounces on him.  All red faced, he yells “Did you hear me, I mean NOW”  “What is that you are saying?”  “I don’t appreciate that attitude, young lady”.

Yet if the parent had walked away and checked back in 10 or 15 minutes, he would never know how the child went about following the instructions.  If you come back and the job is done, all is as it should be –if he muttered a lot or slammed a few things around; you don’t know it and no worries!

Parents say they encourage self-expression, but they really mean POSITIVE self-expression!  Allow your child the privacy and freedom to deal with his feelings and opinions and don’t let them become a battleground! SOME things, you are surely better off not knowing!

In addition, at some point, you are not going to be able to micromanage – your child will go to a birthday party or as a teenager, will be going out alone with friends.  If your child only obeys when micromanaged, he won’t be able to self-govern and he will not internalize your values.

He must experience the positive and negative aspects of his actions.  Give him a long rope and a lot of leeway – if he messes up, your calm consequences will teach him more than words or hovering attention ever can.  And the lessons will last!

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