Monday, April 09, 2007

"Let me think about it."

A thought in between laundry loads:

I'll say upfront that I've learned this the hard way and in no way am I a parenting expert but it's lately occured to me how much precision and thought can be put into the phrase "I'll think about it." Whatever your disciplining method may be, I think the one thing we can all agree on is that a parent needs to establish his/her role as one of authority. No good can come of waffling on our decisions and we ALL know how unattractive a whining incident can be. How do we cure whining? By making our "Yes" mean yes -- our "No" mean no. Period.

Instilling the virture of obedience in our children is one of the very FIRST tasks with which we need to be concerned. This isn't for the feint of heart. There have been too many times when I want to get back to my book or back to my conversation with a friend and a begging child knows this, takes advantage of my exasperation, and begs for something or some privilege until I get so sick of hearing about it that I say "Fine!" And with that single word, I relinquish my authority. The child learns that he can get what he wants by simply persisting in the whine long enough until I break.

We need to be very diligent about choosing our words. If you don't want your child to do something, say no... and be prepared with a reason. This helps down the road when you forbid something and get stuck with the less-than-impressive cop-out "... because I'm the mom, that's why!"

And since I am sometimes overstimulated with things demanding my time or attention, I've learned to utilize the phrase "Let me think about it," in order to not be pressured into a quick or thoughtless decision. Whenever I have the presence of mind to say this, my kids have learned that I am giving careful consideration to what they are requesting (and hence, showing THEM respect) and they'll keep quiet about it for a while. In the meantime, it's up to us to actually take the time to think about it. And decide whether or not you want to allow what they are asking and reflect on your reasons why. Even when I do decide on a "No" answer, I am always careful to praise the child for asking politely (if he does so) so he doesn't receive a completely negative response.

When you state your YES or your NO, be prepared to stick with it. And do not react to the whining or begging that will initially ensue until they come to recognize your new tactics. Children can't be learning that crying, screaming or hitting will change your answer. When your word gets passed down to them, they'll respect it and recognize that you don't make arbitrary decisions.... simply by buying yourself a little time with a little phrase.



one of us :: 11:37 AM :: 2 Comments