CHIEF RABBI, HACHAM SHAUL KASSIN 5681 – 5779 / 1921-2018

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HOW DO WE GAIN MORE COMPLIANCE FROM OUR CHILDREN?

By: Tammy Sassoon, M.s.ed



First, let’s take a look at what our goal is in our career of parenting. We must know what our destination is in order to arrive there. Contrary to popular belief, our goal is NOT to get our children to cooperate (take baths, listen, do homework, etc.), but rather our goal is to raise children who find value in these behaviors, and WANT to engage in them. Yes, it is important for children to brush teeth, be kind, listen, etc. but if we only get them to do these things in the moment, without internalizing the values, we have lost sight of our destination. Once children leave our domain, they will no longer be interested in engaging in these healthy behaviors that they did not internalize.

Let’s think back a few decades to who we listened to when we were children. There are common characteristics between all adults who actually really motivate kids to listen. If you think back to an adult in your life who was able to have an impact on you, that person definitely had the following characteristic: That person viewed you as a tremendously important human being, regardless of how you acted. That means that when you were struggling with a behavior, the person did not become scared of you or its implications. They did not see a big problem. On the contrary, they saw a huge human being. When our children engage in negative behaviors, we can either see these behaviors as “who the child is” (which is extremely damaging and unmotivating to the child) or we can see these behaviors as the child’s pain. For example, if a child often makes negative comments, we can view him as a negative person, or as a child who is unhappy inside. If we view him as the latter, we will feel the necessary compassion towards him, which will spark him to want to become more positive.

Think of a desolate piece of real estate in an expensive neighborhood. The sign says, “Lot for sale.” A smart investor is able to look at this empty lot and make an offer on it because he realizes that with some visualization there is tremendous potential over there. There is no such thing as an empty piece of land that has no value. All children and all human beings have this basic value. Some children have been worked on more than others and they look like a piece of real estate with tall buildings. But even if a child does not appear to behave in ways we would like, their inherent value is always there. It’s not that they don’t have value; it’s that they are unaware of their value. We need to be the smart investors who see the potential, and create an environment that motivates the child to see his or her own value.
If we engage with the child with the knowledge that he is tremendously important, he or she will organically begin to engage in the behaviors that we are good for them.

One of the problems in education is that we are trying to build buildings before we have a foundation. The buildings are the character traits: the listening, the respect, the cooperation, etc., and the foundation is the child’s feeling that they are an important human being. If as parents we are able to give them that message by the way we appear when they are struggling to cooperate, they are astronomically more likely to take in the values (the building that we are trying to build upon them).

Compliance is a layer of the building. Let’s first lay the foundation of having our children understand their true value, and then when we ask them to comply it’s easier to get a solid response.

Positive Messages
to Convey to Your Children

Smile at your children often.
It shows them you enjoy their company.

Expect them to make mistakes and have hard days.
Tell them it is part of being human. Share your own struggles (without burdening them) so they see how genuine you are.

Tell them how lucky you are to have been chosen to be their mother.

After they misbehave, give them space. Lecturing never accomplishes anything. If you need to set a limit, do it in a calm way, and then move on.

Submit a question to Tammy

If you are a frustrated mom or dad looking for answers to a specific problem at home, or want to improve your parenting skills in a certain area, please send an email toeditor@communitym.com.Tammy will suggest new and effective parenting strategies that actually work!