Children come into the world not knowing the rules of conduct and it is the parent’s job to teach the acceptable language and behavior. How is this done? Mom and dad communicate at an age appropriate level, what the rules are and attach reasonable consequences to the unwanted actions.
Best example happens at the grocery store. Standing in line to check out, is a wide selection of candies, gum and soda. Who sees this? a child and being the egocentric being wants what is being displayed. Child asks, parent says no, child keeps asking, parent keeps saying no, a stand off ensues. The usual outcome, child pushes the parent to the edge and parent caves, giving child what is wanted. Now, there are two reasons the child “won” 1. based on previous interactions, the child knows if pushed hard enough, the parent will give in to the demands. 2. the grocery store is a public place, the parent is embarrassed and to make their uncomfortableness go away, caves. Mmmm, so who is really at fault? the child or the parent? Don’t really have a sure fire answer, could be both, could be one or the other participant. I’m not here to point a finger just give food for thought.
The point I am trying to make is that kids know which of the parents buttons to push in order to get what is wanted, the parent feels manipulated becomes angry and the situation just deteriorates. That is why consequences attached to actions, communicated clearly to the child and FOLLOWED THROUGH BY THE PARENTS is important. I have a good friend with a teenage daughter and she was talking about how difficult it is to get her daughter to take some personal responsibility in regard to getting ready for school. The consequence for not making her lunch, for example, she doesn’t have a lunch to eat. Now, my friend is pretty self aware and knows that the big issue is her uncomfortableness as a parent when dealing with the fall out and that every time she gives in or puts out all the lunch fixings just makes it easier for her daughter to not do for herself. The question for her? How uncomfortable do I want to be in order to teach my daughter self reliance when making her lunch?
SPOILER ALERT: Following through with consequences will make your life HELL for at least two weeks, that’s about how long it normally takes to change behavior. You might have a very tenacious child but stay the course and keep telling them (and you); “if you want a lunch for school tomorrow, you need to make it the night before, it is your choice.” I can also sit here and talk about what a parent needs to do (see above), you can get advice from friends, read a lot of parenting books and google child rearing but bottom line YOU KNOW YOUR CHILD BETTER THAN ANYONE, which means YOU need to decide what course of action will work or not, in any given situation with your child.
The best compliment a parent can receive? Another parent tells you how polite, helpful, engaging your child was at their house. That is how you know you are doing a good job as a parent because they are taking the correct rules of behavior and using them when outside the family. Now, in a perfect world they would do this at home too but SIGH maybe there will be just glimpses…