What Are You Going To Do, If You Don’t Know What To Do?

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By: Tammy Sassoon, M.s.ed

 Does the following scenario

sound familiar?

One of your children woke you up a
half-hour before your alarm clock was set to go off. Somehow you made it through getting your kids dressed, feeding them breakfast, making the bus, heading to
work, errands, cooking dinner, and now you’re finally clearing space on your wall for your superwoman award.

The thought that kept you going throughout everything, was the thought of a quiet house at 8:00pm. The kind of quiet where you can hear the refrigerator hum and the washing machine with its rhythmic beat. But the moment you say “dinner time,” thoughts are replaced by chaos. “Meatballs again?!” And OMG your daughter’s spaghetti has some sauce on it so now it’s all yucky, and arguing is futile because she is having super snacks for dinner and there is not a thing you can do to stop her.

So, you scream and yell, threaten and hide, and ultimately say, “Bedtime!” That brings another slew of problems. There’s a science project to do, a math test to study for, and a
Play-Doh creation that still needs finishing. And of course, none of these things could have been done before you said “Bedtime” because bedtime is a magical time for kids to remember all the things that need to happen before tomorrow morning. Here’s how you break the cycle so you never have to scream, yell, threaten, or hide again.

I will offer two tips that increase cooperation from
your children.

Tip # 1: Make your valuesappealing to your kids.

When you and your child are both in a great mood, let them know that dinner helps you stay healthy, green stuff makes you strong, bedtime helps your body and mind relax so you can be better at sports tomorrow and not fall asleep during class. Bring it down to their level, help your kids understand that there is value in what you’re asking of them and it’s not about you getting your way.

If you didn’t know the value in something, would YOU spend time, money, or energy on it? Absolutely not! If someone intimidated you into doing something, would you do it? Probably, but only until you figured out you could get away with not doing it. Your kids are like you! Parenting is so much more than “getting kids to do things.”

Once you’ve spent time motivating your child to value the positive behavior, you can use the following tip as well.

Tip #2I call this one
“What Happened?” Here's how it works:

1   Clearly state the instruction to your child.

2   Immediately walk away as if you know the child will listen.

3   Wait 30 seconds. If child still didn't comply, go very close to him or her, and with a warm, calm affect, say, “Mommy just told you to go…– What Happened?” (You do not need your child to come up with a genius explanation of why he or she didn't listen yet. Remember that if kids feel we are not judging them in any way, but rather inquiring about what really may have happened, they are much more likely to comply.) At that point, your child will either do what you originally instructed or:

4   You will warmly and firmly say, “Mommy told you to go… Now please go ahead and do that.”

At the end of the day, all human beings like to be kind to others, including your children. If they truly feel that you are in this whole parenting experience for them, and you communicate in ways that demonstrate that, they are really not left with any reasons to engage in unhealthy behaviors. Parenting is a lot of work, but if we do it with the right mindset, it’s extremely fulfilling!

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!