My childhood was such that parents’ word was law. There was no discussion, negotiation or defying them. If I exhibited disobedience then I was punished. So I obeyed every word, without thinking right or wrong. Now I am a parent and I know parents are always right about their kids and hence whatever they say has to be unquestionable.
Presently, I want my kid to obey me in the same way as I obeyed my parents, but this is not happening. I keep hollering and my kid shows defiant behavior. My requests are not registered at all, or are immediately forgotten. I have tried bribes, threats and point system. Nothing works, or at least nothing works for more than a couple of days. I carry the aroma of my agenda spiced with a bit of anxiety about how will she respond.
I feel that my parents’ parenthood was easier than mine. Wait a second, I am not thinking of my childhood, rather, I am thinking about parenthood at that time. If I restrict myself to remember my childhood then it would be like this: I had no voice. I was not considered eligible for making choices. I was instructed as if I was a complete nonsense and idiot. Whenever I was compelled to do something, I was resentful towards them. I had never thought of being aggressive to my uncles, even if they were harassing me. The dictatorship of my parents sent a hidden message that I do not have capability to differentiate between right and wrong. My parents were empowered but I was a cute, sweet and powerless kid. I have no doubts that my parents loved me in the same way I love my kid. That was a different time and almost every parent practiced the same strategy at that time. It was normalcy of that time.
Oh! I do want my parenthood to be easy, but not at the price of my kid’s childhood and her personality. So, I never hit her and I rarely scold her and so she doesn’t obey me (I thought this is the reason). She has a voice and she believes that she is capable to decide good and bad for herself. She has a power to make choice and say ‘NO’. I have a powerful kid to deal with. And this explains why my parenthood is struggling.
I think about what are the other ways to help my kid to listen and obey me. I have no doubts that she loves me and respects me, but this doesn’t ensure complying with my requests. I have this interesting analysis.
Why I want my kid to obey me? Because I, her mother, is asking her to do something. If I would request the same thing to any other kid then his non-compliance doesn’t hurt me. Because he is not mine. Rest every other reason comes later on like: this is right thing to do, or she doesn’t understand the world fully, and so on.
I missed out a simple fact here. And the fact is- kids are fully committed to having as much fun as possible in each and every moment. The time someone (even her mother) interrupts her, she has a direct response ‘NO’. She doesn’t mean to hurt me or challenge my authority. She is suffering from childhood.
I have to find ways to make her receptive. I have figured out some ways to do this.
- Don’t jump to bottom line. Without reception transmission is a sure failure. Gather audience before delivering lecture.
- First have some conversation about whatever activity she is performing right now. It may be drawing or watching TV. Sit with the kid and appreciate her work, or the show she is watching and get her talking to you. This helps her to disconnect slightly with whatever she is doing and connect to you.
- After establishing the connection, make eye contact and place your request or order. She might ask for some time to process your request. Don’t panic and relax. Give her ‘response time’, clearly measurable like 5 min or so.
- Don’t sit or hover to check if she will do it or not. When we appeal to our kids to be the best version of themselves- without lecturing or scolding or hovering- they feel trusted and respected and responsible kids. No one wants to ruin her reputation intentionally.
- Say good words after they have done the job. Good words doesn’t mean appreciation only, it includes something positive about behavior to encourage them to cooperate next time.
This is actually how we deal with our pears, other adults, where our ego doesn’t play major role in fulfilling request. It is always mutual respect, trust and love that works. Treat kids like your pears, but with little tactics, and your work would be done mostly. Avoid being a ‘Drama Queen’, who is ever ready with different programs running: requesting, yelling, bribing, frustrating, emotional blackmailing etc. Kids would love such a mom, she is far more entertaining than their cartoons.
I am presently working with this strategy with my kid (5 year young). I find it working more than usual course of hollering, and I have more moments of savoring the success. I am hopeful, slowly, I would have a trusted, obeyed and respected parenthood.
See you again. 🙂
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