Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

What Gets You Results As A Parent?

I'll bet you've had a scenario something like this one. Little Ryan needs to go to bed but he's playing with his favorite game. So you respond, "Ryan, it's time for you to finish your game, pick up your toys and head for bed." Ryan replies of course, "OK, mom, just a minute. I have to finish this last level."

So you give him some grace for a few minutes and then try again. "Ryan, it's time for bed. I'll be in there in a minute and when I come you need to have things picked up."  "OK, mom."

You know where I'm going with this, right?  You and Ryan go back and forth several more times until finally you (or your spouse if you're married) explodes, "Ryan, pick up your toys right now and get your butt into your bedroom!!"  Ryan finally knows that you're serious and heads for his room, the toys still on the floor. He's perhaps crying or at best now scared and the rest of your time is tense and difficult.

Sadly, what got Ryan to finally move was not a willingness to obey or a predetermined, healthy pattern of responding. No, he finally did what he was told because you got angry enough. And who taught him that this was how it works. You did. I've done it too. We've sent the message loud and clear that our kids do not have to really obey us until we reach a certain boiling point.

And as a result we suffer and so do they.

The good news is that there is a better way. We must make our actions not our anger the trigger for them to act. For example, if Ryan doesn't respond the way we want him to at an appropriate and reasonable time, then we must act in a way that convinces him we are serious. This doesn't require being mean or hitting him. But it does mean that we must help move him to action.

Some options . . . "Ryan, do you want to walk into your bedroom or should one of us carry you?" might be a next question. It could mean picking up the game right then and seeing that he puts it away after he takes it out of your hand. It could involve some other options like, "Ryan, you can either go right now to your room and get changed or tomorrow night you will go to bed thirty minutes earlier."

There are lots of ways to do this and they will differ depending upon the child's age, size and personality. The key is that you do something that requires he act and not stall.  With younger children it's wise to give them a pre-obedience phase where perhaps you set the timer on your phone or microwave to ring letting him know that there is a deadline but he has some acceptable time before he must respond.  Make sure that  your expectations, whatever they are, are also age-appropriate.

With teens, you will want to use the options idea more than most because you obviously can't pick them up. Nonetheless, the same principles are true.

The key is letting our actions do the talking not our anger. You will get far better results, harm your kids less and sleep better later that night!
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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