Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Features

October 10, 2013

Living with Children and parenting with boundaries

Most parents describe discipline problems like the problems in question reveal facets of their kids’

personalities: such as “strong-willed”. In nearly every instance, discipline problems with a child tell more about the parents than they do the child.

Take “my child is argumentative,” for example. Arguments between parent and child occur because the parent gives explanations for decisions he makes.

“My friend is coming over and I’d like to serve coffee and talk with her in this room, so I’d like you to pick up your toys and move to another room” is likely to evoke and “I was here first!” And the argument is on.

The form of the instruction is the problem. The parent should have simply said, “I want you to pick these toys up and move them to another room.”

Why?

Because I said so. “Yes, I know that’s horribly old-fashioned, but the use of authoritative, non-explanatory instructions along with those very “incorrect” four words prevented many an argument in those old-fashioned days.

And allow me to point out parent-child arguments benefit no one, no matter who “wins.”

“My child won’t do what he’s told” is another example of how parents fail to realize their role in a discipline problem. Children will do what they are told most of the time, that is, but that’s at least 80 percent.

The reality is most of today’s parents don’t tell. Instead, they plead, bargain, bribe, cajole, reason, explain, encourage, suggest, and promise. When none of that works, they threaten. And when that doesn’t work, they scream.

Then they feel badly and go right back to trying to be “nice,” meaning pleading, bargaining, bribing, and so on.

A “tell” is an instruction that uses the fewest words possible and, again, is devoid of explanation. A “tell” is not “I think you’ve been up long enough, and it’s obvious to me you’re getting overtired, and I

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