Friday, December 16, 2011
Getting Parenting Results Shouldn't Require Anger
Five more minutes go by and Ryan is still intently working his joy stick. Mom comes in and says with more intensity, "Ryan, I'm not going to tell you again. Put the game away and get in the tub." Ryan hears her but again responds with, "Alright, I'm going," but he hasn't budged.
Three more exchanges take place and finally dad enters the room and literally yells, "Ryan, get your butt into the tub right now and give me the controller!!" Ryan now knows he has passed his parents' limit on grace and he runs to the bathroom for his bath.
Have you been there? Does a similar scene happen in some form at your house on a regular basis? If so, you're not alone. Children often learn that the first, second and even fifth time that mom and/or dad asks them to do something that they really don't mean it or at least won't follow through. Instead the children have been programmed to wait for the anger level to reach it's high point before they act.
Wise and effective parents, however, know that they can and must expect action sooner and can do so without blowing their gourd.
How? First, make reasonable expectations. Young children especially need some time to prepare for an expectation. You can use a timer or with older kids give them a clear time limit.
Second, immediately expect and enforce the action you're requiring. When Ryan's time was up the parents needed to make sure that he complied right then. With a cool and calm voice they could have said, "Ryan, look at me. We're going to your bath right now. Hand me the controller. We're putting it away."
Some kids will respond well and others may balk. If they do, just say the same thing again. With younger and more strong-willed kids, you may have to walk them in to the bathroom or even pick them up. Whatever your choice is, stay cool and nonchalant while in control of your emotions.
You might have a child or teen say, "I hate you," because you're requiring a certain action. Again, with as much calmness as you can muster look right at them and say, "I don't hate you. You could never do anything that would make me hate you, but I'm sorry you feel that way today about me. Nonetheless, you need to go to bed."
It will take practice and patience to learn to respond quickly and without anger. But I promise you that you will get better results and use less energy if you don't let anger be your most effective way to get action from your kids. Keep on.