Updated: Jun 24, 2020
In the great adventure we call Parenting, most of us want to find solutions that “work”, meaning of course, solutions that will stop the (fill in the blank) tantrums, arguing, fighting, hitting, peeing, not eating/ sleeping/ listening, etc. . .
Sometimes the consequences we impose aren’t painful enough to get a child’s attention, but often when a parent finds themselves grasping for the insta-fix, you can almost bet they are worn out and have lost sight of the goal. In the moment, they don't care about the goal, they just want the craziness to stop!
The goal is that the child sees a parent who means what she says. This is a parent the child can count on to stand her ground and not let the child’s behavior move her an inch. This parent means what she says, and isn’t thrown by a little childish foolishness. She knows where she's going, and she is gonna lead the child all the way there: to responsible adulthood.
No technique can force a change of behavior. If a child’s behavior changes, it’s going to be because we’ve imposed genuinely painful consequences for bad behavior, calmly and consistently, and the child has decided the bad behavior isn’t worth it; he’s beginning to understand that there are some things you just can’t do, and some other things you just have to do.
We parents have to keep doing the right thing–making the rules clear, and calmly imposing consequences when therules are broken, over and over again–even if our children choose to do the wrong thing. That’s leadership.
So, the next time you say to yourself, “Why isn’t this working???”, just remember–what your child needs from you is to stand firm. Make sure the consequences are painful enough to get his attention, then keep doing the right thing even if your child keeps choosing the wrong thing.