Do you ever find yourself issuing threats to your kids? Of course you do. The kids have pushed you to the wall and a threat just comes screaming out of your mouth. Did you mean it? No. So what can you do?
Before we get to this topic, one of my readers passed on this important link for us. What do parents need to know about taxes?
“If you don’t eat all your dinner, I’ll never cook for you again!” Really? Will you really never offer this child another meal unless she chokes down everything on her plate today?
Of course not. It’s an empty threat.
Threats; they coming flying out of our mouths and even as we make these outrageous suggestions to our children we know how silly we sound.
If we don’t believe what we’re saying, what makes us think our children will believe us or change their behavior as a result?
We threaten because we’re at our wits end, we’re out of ideas or just plain frustrated.
So how can we stop issuing empty threats?
One of the best things to do is to develop a discipline plan. Know what your rules, expectations and limits are. What are the rules around dinnertime? Think about it.
Sometimes the children are simply confused. They don’t really know what’s expected of them and that could be because you’re also not sure. When you haven’t considered the rules, chances are that your response to the kids’ behavior will vary depending on your mood. One day you are in a rush to get out of the house for a meeting so are impatient and want them to eat everything and do it quickly. The next day you are relaxed and ready to let the kids take their time over dinner.
Be clear with yourself and your children what you expect. Once you have set the expectations it’s easier. Everyone understands.
Develop reasonable and logical consequences in case the kids decide to break a rule. This helps you to avoid the empty threats. When you know what you’re going to do when things aren’t going well, you can react in a reasonable way. Even better, the kids also know what to expect. The clearer you all are on the house rules, the easier it will be to avoid threats.
Let’s say you’ve determined that everyone will sit at the table and eat their meal. They don’t need to finish everything on their plate. They will not be able to have snacks between meals or planned snack times so when they have finished and have excused themselves, they know the next time they will eat is at a planned time.
Brianna is playing with her food, kicking her brother under the table and clearly no longer interested in eating. So you can let her know that she can either settle down or leave the table. End of discussion and no idle threats.
When you find yourself constantly fighting with the kids over a certain situation, re-visit the rules. Maybe you need to change the rule. Maybe you’re asking too much of the kids.
For example, if you are asking your two-year-old to sit quietly at the table while the food is served and not start to eat until everyone has been served that will lead to problems. While that’s a perfectly acceptable and polite expectation for an eight-year-old, a toddler can’t handle it. So, for your toddler, prepare his plate. Cut all the meat and get it completely ready to eat and then bring him to the table so he can start right away.
It’s a good idea to be clear on family rules yourself and also involve the children in setting them, particularly once the kids are school-aged. Clarify in your own mind which rules are not negotiable and which might be. For example, it’s never okay to physically hurt someone is non-negotiable but the time when we will do the garden work is.
If a silly threat still pops out of your mouth, see the humour in it. Laugh. Ask the kids. What do you think? Do you think I’ll really never cook for you again?
If you don’t pay attention to what I’m saying, I’ll never let you read this paper again!
Vive la Différence
There are so many times when we are raising our kids when we note their differences. My mini guide e-book , Vive la Différence: Raising Children with Different Temperaments addresses this.
I have always known that each child is a unique individual. I looked at my two who are as different as night and day. Then I consider my siblings and we are a textbook example of different.
But, now I have three grandchildren, all the same age and the differences from their births has been striking.
The result is the e-parenting mini guide, Vive la Différence: Raising Children with Different Temperaments. The guide is available on my website.
How Can I Bring Kathy to My Community?
I offer keynotes and workshops, have written books and have ongoing newspaper columns, books, blogs and newsletters.
And, no matter what the actual topic, they all share a basic value that I call:
P — is a parenting plan
U — is unconditional love
R — is respect for your child as he is right now
E — is encouragement
These make up the framework of any resources that will come from Parenting Today. These four pillars are the essential ingredients for raising healthy children who will develop into capable young men and women.