Dear mom with peanut butter smeared on your shoulder, hair in a ponytail, and dishes piled high in the sink…I see you. And I want you to know that the rest of us struggle the same way you do.
I understand that sometimes you feel like you’re failing as a mom. It’s easy to feel that way when you pop onto Facebook and see the perfect little families. Then in desperation you switch over to Pinterest where some mom created this amazing craft with her kids while she was cooking grain-free whole foods and sending sweet text messages to her hubby.
In fact, if you knew the truth behind those social media shares, you’d see dirty dishes in the sink, moms who are kicking themselves for yelling at the kids AGAIN, and probably a little peanut butter on their shoulders, too.
I think it’s right to assume that most of you would say parenting is the hardest job you’ve ever done. It’s a 24/7, no holidays, jack-of-all trades kinda job. But I also assume that you love it. You love it so much that you want to do it well. That’s why you try so hard to raise your kids to be respectful.
What you may not know is that there are some so-called parenting “tricks” out there which are actually sabotaging your mission. In fact, they are actually working wholeheartedly against all your best-laid plans. And if you don’t mind, I’d like to humbly share these with you. Just between the two of us. Two moms with peanut butter smears, ponytails, and sinks full of dishes.
4 Parenting Tricks That DO NOT Work
1. Counting to 3
I know decades of parents have used the old “don’t make me count to 3” threat. But I can confidently tell you it doesn’t work. Here’s the secret—> If your child will listen when you get to “3,” they will listen to you before you count at all. Counting only accomplishes one goal. It trains kids NOT to follow through when you first ask them to do something.
What does work? Try reminding the child that you expect them to listen right away by asking for a response. In my house, this response is, “Yes, Mom.” It doesn’t matter what you ask them to respond with. What matters is that you get the verbal agreement to do something. Then, if the child doesn’t listen right away, there is opportunity to remind them by saying, “I’m sorry, what was your response?” Or something similar to that.
2. Too Many Choices, Too Soon
You know what I’m talking about. “Do you want a blue cup or a green cup?” “Would you like to have oatmeal, pancakes, or eggs for breakfast?”
These questions and their counterparts can work against every smart parenting effort you’ve made. I’m not totally against the beauty of choice, we just have to be aware of the peril that it brings. What peril is this, you ask? Entitlement. Oh yes, the dirty “E” word. I don’t think I’ve ever met a parent who wanted their child to feel “entitled,” so I’ll just assume that you don’t either.
When we offer too many choices too early we create a child who cannot handle the moment when a choice is not presented. And you and I both know what comes next: t-a-n-t-r-u-m.
As parents, we get the privilege of guiding them through the choices of life. We can do that best by offering one choice at a time, making sure the child is demonstrating they can accept something that isn’t their way before adding another choice.
Hear me out on this one. A bribe is something you offer your child in an effort to get them to do something you asked them to do. And bribes seem to work, at least in the short term. You tell Johnny that if he is “good” in the store he can have that cookie at the end of the trip.
Here’s the trouble with a bribe: you are teaching the child that obedience is not necessary unless mom pulls out the big dogs. Basically, you’ve just upped the ante. And the next time you go into the store, you’d better have that cookie ready or you won’t be getting any cooperation out of your child.
I do want to note that this is different than a reward. There is a fine line, yes. But they are different. A reward is something that is offered for a job well done. You offer this AFTER the job is done though, rather than dangle the cookie in front of them to illicit a particular behavior. Make sense?
This one makes no sense. Children want to be free to do as they wish, right? So why is it that when they are free to do as they wish, we are talking mass destruction? I have to be honest with this one. Nearly every time I find myself annoyed or angry with a behavior situation, it’s because I haven’t given clear structure or boundaries to an event or a time of day.
Children crave structure and we would all find our days less frenzied if we offered it. Please note, I’m not suggesting that we need to micromanage our children. We simply need to lay a framework that will help everyone manage the day better. You can see my schedule here for ideas.
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