If you tend to get stuck using the same script with your kids after having the same argument, while getting the same frustrating results, it may be time to switch things up. Meredith Wait, a mom of two boys ages 7 and 4, gives seminars and in-home therapy to families looking for ways to get young kids to listen.
Why do you say parents have a toxic relationship with repeating?
Meredith Wait: The No. 1 complaint I receive when I work with parents through my business, Bag of Tricks Parenting, is repeating! Repeating triggers a thought and behavior process in parents that fast tracks to high levels of frustrations, a lack of desired outcome, unnecessary consequences, and most significantly, no change in the parent/child interaction.
Adults are outcome-oriented (talking); children are process-oriented (doing). When an adult asks her son to put away his toys, the expectation is that it is done immediately, similar to when an employer tells his office manager to forward all calls to his voicemail. There is a command, an action and an outcome. Over time, grown-ups learn that not following a request leads to a negative outcome. Young children haven’t made this connection between A and B. When you want your child to do something, it must be communicated with a clear link to what will happen afterward.
What do you try to get across in your lesson on accountability?
Wait: Accountability results in some not nice feelings, and parents have it stuck in their heads that it is in the job description to keep their children happy at all times. Accountability is best taught in a loving, forgiving environment (such as the home), with plenty of examples from parents. Did you snap at your child for no reason? If so, take the time to look them in the eyes and apologize. Encourage dialogue that praises accountability as a positive trait, rather than one that will get them into trouble. If parents do not teach accountability, the world will, and the effects will be far harsher. Leading the way is a fantastic starting point, and when your child does own up to coloring the walls purple, make sure to compliment their bravery, before giving your consequence.
How can Mom and Dad get on the same page with parenting?
Wait: Parents don’t have to have the same style to be on the same page. Virtually all parents have the same goal — to raise happy, healthy children who contribute to society. Start scheduling weekly parenting meetings with your partner. Create a core set of hard rules that you both agree on. Agree that you will begin the mantra “If Mommy says no, Daddy says no, if Daddy says yes, Mommy says yes.” Presenting a united front is critical in protecting the culture of your home. Any disagreements can be discussed privately, and be aware of trying to hog all the parenting duties. Dads have some amazing tactics to contribute, especially when you’ve hit your breaking point. It is OK to disagree on certain things, as long as your core family rules and values remain intact.”
What do you find parents are struggling with today?
Wait: I feel that parents have veered off track in their understanding of what their job entails, and yes, parenting is a job. Parents want their children to be happy all the time, have the best of everything, and many times it backfires. What I’ve dubbed “The Princess Phenomenon,” has created a disaster. Preteens cruising the mall with Coach purses, credit cards and iPhones are not a product of parents who don’t love them, rather the product of parents who only want the best for their kids.
But with long working hours and guilt over not being present at every game or field trip, parents have overcompensated by instilling in their child that they are the center of the world. I tell my own children (who are very fortunate), that while every child is special, no child is the center of the world.
Make an effort to engage in a charitable act together. Speak about world politics and take advantage of a child’s natural giving demeanor.
Have you learned to stop repeating yourself? What are your tricks? Please share your thoughts and stories in Comments below.
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