When I was a kid, if I fussed and complained about wanting something (or not wanting to do something), my whiny why’s were immediately put to an end when my mom replied with a finite “My saying so is reason enough!” (her version of the infamous “Because I said so”). When those words were uttered, that was it. I knew I wasn’t going to get my way – my mom had made a decision, and I honoured it.
Nowadays I am constantly witnessing parents who are addressing temper tantrums and disrespectful behaviours with coaxing negotiations, bribery and hugs, and I’m left to wonder – who’s the boss?
I’m not judging the parents who are using these tactics, I know all children are different. I’ve definitely learned through the years that what works with one child, certainly doesn’t mean that it’ll work with all children. When my firstborn acts up, a few stern words about expectations and unacceptable behaviours calm her down. I explain why her words or actions are not acceptable, and she understands, learns from the experience, and moves on. But my second child, he’s a whole different story.
As I navigate through the challenging waters of parenting, I’m constantly coming across articles and blog posts on the detrimental effects of time outs, consequences, and discipline tactics. And while the idea of correcting the undesirable behaviours by using those moments to teach important life lessons seems ideal, those tactics simply don’t work with every child. If I were to address my son’s screaming and flailing tantrums with a calm discussion about appropriate ways to use his words and communicate his feelings, my words would be met with louder screams and more undesirable behaviours. I confess, I’m not always the boss – but how do I regain my parental control?
I read so much about what we shouldn’t be doing, but I have yet to find a definitive solution to the problem that can be applied to all children. And I know why: because there is no one definitive solution.
What works with one child, will not always work with another. As parents, we know our children best. We know what sets them off, and we do what we can to dissolve the difficult behaviours. If time outs are working for you, do it. If hugging it out calms your child down, hug away! If you’ve discovered a new groundbreaking way to get your children to listen to you – keep on keeping on! But I think the ultimate goal as we raise our little humans is to make it understood that they have to listen to us – that we as parents are the boss.