One often hears parents complaining that the child just ignores or does just the opposite of what has been requested of him/her. Have you ever wondered why? Maybe we make the following mistakes. Rate yourself honestly as a fair parent.
- “Why did you get your pants dirty again? You always do that. What’s wrong with you?”( Blaming and accusing)
- “Look at this messy room. You are such a slob/dumb.” (Name calling)
- “If you do that one more time, you’ll never see that ball again.” (Threats)
- “You still didn’t put your backpack away. Do it now! Move!” (Commands)
- : “Teasing Sara was not a nice thing to do. Is that how you’d like to be treated?” (Lecturing and moralising)
- Warnings: “Careful, or you’ll fall and crack your head open!”
- “Do you see all my grey hairs? They are because of you two fighting all the time!”(Martyrdom statements)
- “Lisa’s son is so well-behaved. Why can’t you act more like that?”(Comparisons)
- “You expect to get an A with that poor work?”(Sarcasm)
- “Just keep on being selfish. No one will ever want to play with you and you’ll grow up with no friends.” (Prophecy)
These are some of the ways parents want their children to cooperate! Now honestly how would you feel as an adult if someone does the same to you? Children look up to you for everything, till they are old enough to receive it from their teachers, peers and society in general. You are responsible for their initial growth and understanding. It is not that anything changes when they grow up but improves with time if there is an honest communication between parents and the children.Sometimes hurtful words linger and children use them on themselves later. Think of the reaction you may have to these types of statements if you were a child.
To get your child to cooperate without damaging her/his self-esteem:
(Instead of accusing the child“Look what you’ve done! You just made the rug wet and it already smells bad!”)
Give information: “the towel is dripping and getting the rug wet” or “wet rugs can make the room smell awful”. This provides the child with knowledge for the rest of his life, and instils the message that “grown-ups trust me with responsibility once I know the facts. Oh is that so? ”
Say it with a word: “The towel!” or “the light!”. Rather than being seen as an oppressive command, this gives the child the opportunity to use his/her own initiative and intelligence to figure out what needs to be done.
Describe what you feel: “I don’t like walking on a wet floor” or “I don’t like picking up towels I did not use”. Children are capable of dealing of their parents’ feelings and it should be described with appropriate statements. Children whose feelings are respected will most likely respect their parents’ feelings. If not, explain that you care about how you feel, and you care about how they feel. Make them feel responsible and they will cooperate and be responsible.
We must understand that communication is a two way dialogue- one listens while the other speaks, If you want your child to cooperate then communicate, listen when he/she speaks and the child will learn to listen and wait for turn. There should be eye-contact when there is communication, put your newspaper down, mute/ switch off your TV set, silence your phone or gesticulate that you will be speaking to your child as soon as the call is over, please remember to talk when your phone conversation is over.
Never threaten your child with consequences you have no intention to follow up. Never threaten a child who is becoming unreasonable and throwing tantrums, with any punishment that you cannot follow up or no intention of carrying out. Never say “I will lock you in a room!” or ”I’ll slap you hard!” instead just say you are hurt and because he/she is not cooperating and being responsible no ice creams/ cartoon channel/ park visit for the child for one week.
Please ensure that you are serious about your threat. So do not threaten with extreme steps, just with the simplest of consequences. For e.g. “I was going to make macaroni for you today, but I don’t feel like it anymore.” “You made me sad.”
When I write such articles I do not want any parent to underestimate his/her parenting ability. A parent is born when a child is born. Each child is a unique masterpiece of the almighty. When we give wise tips it means it is tried and tested and is successful in most of the cases.