So wish I had been the one to come up with this statement because not only do I love it, I truly believe in it. Its an easy way of saying when all is said and done, I am the adult who has had many years experience and knows what’s best for you because I love you and I am saying NO.
Some parents find it very hard to say No because of the behaviour that will follow. I hear parents talk about the whingeing, crying, negotiating and then they finally give in because it is much easier. Some parents fall into the habit of over explaining or over negotiating, feeling that their child deserves an explanation. Other parents say that they really want to be their child’s friend. Personally, I believe that children have lots of their own friends and don’t need you to be their friend; they need you to teach them how to react, act and behave so that they have friends of their own.
By avoiding the battles, or giving in, you are teaching your child that it is acceptable to behave this way until an adult finally caves in, but ask yourself this:
If YOU don’t teach them, who will?
Coming from an Early Childhood background, teaching teenagers and with experience of three children of my own, here are 3 reasons why the short-term fix of giving in does no one any favours.
- Children need boundaries from adults to feel safe and secure. These boundaries are essential for children to learn how to function socially. It is our job as parents to determine what the boundaries will be (and each family is different) and within this relationship it is the children’s job to push the boundaries. This is how they learn to compromise, negotiate and accept authority.
- I want you to put yourself forward 13 years and imagine this type of behaviour that you have accepted continues because you have not had the ability to stop it. Firstly you have a teenager who is out making up his own rules thinking that if I treat my parents like I do, and then it is acceptable to treat other adults like I do. These behaviours and social skills make that child become isolated in all walks of their life and when others turn their back on them this results in low self-esteem issues. I remember a friend of my daughters now grown up in their twenties saying, “ My mum didn’t care what I was doing, she never really said no to me”
- These limits, social awareness are setting your child up with life skills that they will take into their school life, work life, relationships and raising their own children.
So now that we have established why No is so important, this is what I recommend when the outbursts begin, when the tantrums become unbearable or the whingeing never ceases.
- First and foremost remain calm. Yelling and getting angry only brings you onto their level and this negates your authority.
- Picture your child wearing ‘L’ plates and know that it is your job to teach and guide them through these emotional outbursts.
- Do not negotiate with a child who is angry, upset, whingeing. Let them complete their tantrum in a safe and relatively remote area.
- Talk to them after about why they were angry? How did it made you feel?
What could they possibly do to behave differently next time? (“Maybe next time you feel that way, go to your room and play with the Lego”).
- Let them know that this type of behaviour makes you sad. Its important that children know the impact it has on you, and finally
- Be careful not to make the behaviour personal. For example, ‘You are so naughty’ or ‘you never do the right thing’. Always picture those ‘L’ plates and remember your role in teaching them how to act and react.
The bad behaviour will only happen a couple of times but stay firm, stay fair and stay consistent. You will find when your child knows you mean business and not just lots of hot air with no consequences, they will listen and act more readily.
Its one of the greatest gifts you can give your child.
Teach them how to accept boundaries, and take responsibility for their actions, emotions, feelings and behaviours and you will set your child up for a successful start in life.