Yell-proofing Your Home. Helping Your Child Behave for His or Her Own Reasons
Posted: December 6, 2019
As most parent realize, children have a great deal of inner drive. In many kids, this inner drive overrides the drive of "doing what mom or dad says to do." When these two worlds collide, we yell. We don't want to, but it's what seems so natural. All we want is cooperation, not a big scene over everyday life events.
What if we could work with both? What if that strong inner drive in your child is not "defiance" but a powerful tool for her or his development that should be nourished? When it comes right down to it, we actually want our kids to have this inner drive. Our problems arise when their inner drive to be in charge comes in conflict with the needs of daily routine.
So how can we tap and channel that inner imperative that comes with child development: "I gotta be me!" "I need to call the shots!" "I don't want to do what you say!" "I know what I want and I'm not changing my mind!"
Many of you who have had parent coaching from me realize that I use "Ask a question" as a tool for effectively gaining the child's cooperation. The channeling of the child's deep desire for self-direction is the reason for using this tool. In this scenario, the child's developmental stage is honored, the child herself feels seen and heard, and cooperation is much more easily won.
"Get your jacket! It's time to go!"
"Stop that video game. You've been on it too long!"
"Set the table. I've got dinner all ready."
"Where's your homework? It needs to go in your backpack!"
"Why are you still on that phone at this time of night?"
These typical statements from parents are well-intentioned. They aim to help family life move forward with children's cooperation. As a busy parent, you don't feel you have the time to coddle your children into doing what needs to be done. But what if it's not actually coddling? What if being gentler with your child is simply taking his developmental age into account? Herein lies the answer: Kids are not adults. Each of them has a developmental stage where some things come easily and some don't. It's important to consider this when dealing with your child. And to avoid an emotional storm, here are better things to say, so the child will act from his or her own inner drive, rather than oppose your directive:
"What else to you need to wear when it's only 20 degrees outside?" (Child now thinks, "What do I need?)
"What's our family decision about screen time?" (Child now thinks, "Oh, two hours per evening! I've gone over that.")
"Notice the stove top? Smell that wonderful aroma? What do we need now to eat this great food?" (Child now thinks, "I'm hungry - better set the table.")
"Is your backpack all set with everything you need?" (Child now thinks, "Where's my homework assignment?")
"What time did we decide on for lights out?" (Child now thinks, "Oh, 9:30!")
Asking these questions allows the inner drive of the child to take control of the situation, rather than you. It includes the child in your thoughts, and ushers him or her to the level of responsibility we all want to encourage. It honors the child rather than implying she's "less than" (who wants to feel "less than?")
When parents ask the questions above, the child may not have all the "correct" answers. As kids, they need time to learn this skill. Sometimes they may under-dress for the ride to school. They may act as if they don't know that setting table comes next after cooking. That's OK. Here's where your patience really pays off. Staying with them, kindly asking the question a little differently and giving heartfelt appreciation for their small successes puts you all on a path of growth, rather than conflict.
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