Can you imagine how simple life would be if your children just did what you asked of them, when you asked it?
Better yet, what if they would do things they are supposed to even before you had to ask them?
Wouldn’t it be nice?
Before I discovered the joys of positive parenting I wouldn’t have believed this was even possible.
Back then, I couldn’t even figure out how to get kids to listen to me, let alone get them to do what they were asked. Even simple requests for a specific action or a change of behavior from my kids could oh-so-easily escalate into monster power struggles.
And frankly, it was wearing me out.
Here are just four of many simple requests I can recall that got totally out of control – I’m sure they will sound familiar in various ways:
Me: Can you please bring your cup through to the kitchen?
My Daughter: In a minute Mom … (and she is lost in the TV program again)
Me: Kicking your sister is not okay
(Cue defiant stare and a sneaky swift kick to his sister’s ankle.)
Me: Time to clean up kids, could you please clear the coloring things away?
My Daughter: Why should I? They’re not all mine!
Me: We don’t play with the knobs on the cooker, it’s dangerous
(30 seconds later little fingers have fiddled again.)
Each time, my hackles rose, my inner power-switch flipped to ‘On’. I’m in charge here right? I would assert my authority (via a raised voice, angry stare, threats of time out, and so on).
And I would eventually ‘win’.
But when we were done and the tears had dried, I would feel wretched inside. And my weary brain would crave relief and I would wonder – Is it bedtime yet?
It was a hollow victory.
My kids were sad. I was sad.
Sure, they jangle my nerves sometimes, but most of the time, they are fun, loving and amazing kids. I didn’t want to spend their entire childhood looking forward to bedtime. I wanted to spend time with them and enjoy it.
So I got to thinking – is there some other way to get them to listen to me and do as they are asked without all this stress and drama?
Thankfully, there is. And it works too.
Armed with my action plan, scenarios like these not only arise less often but when they do, they are quickly and quietly diffused into a peaceful mist of calm. Well, more often than not. We don’t always hit the target (hey, I’m human too) but our home has been transformed by this fresh approach.
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How to Be a Positive Parent.
Below, I’ve put together a list of what works for us. Take a look and see what you think. And throughout, remember that you don’t need to raise your voice and gear up for a fight to get your kids to listen to you. You don’t want to be an opponent. What your kids need is an ally. A calming presence. Assume that role in your head, and you will be ready to address their need.
Here we go –
1: Employ Empathy
Stepping into your child’s shoes may feel like the very last thing you want to do when your own personal focus is on your desire to arrest a behavior, or to get something done.
But step back from that a moment and think about it.
You are focusing on your agenda — the desire to get what you want, to the exclusion of what’s important to your child in that moment.