In a previous article, we looked at how parents can manage and help their children express their negative feelings constructively and effectively. In this text, to ensure the cooperation between the child and the parent, we will look at how parents can manage their own negative emotions to become functional in their interaction with their children.
One factor that exhausts parents’ morale and strength is the daily struggle to learn decent behavior, following society’s dictates, from children. The impossibility of practical cooperation is partly caused by a conflict of different interests or needs. The parent wishes to have rudimentary cleanliness, orderliness, courtesy, and well-being. Children, on the other hand, are mostly indifferent to these “requirements” of parents. Thus, parental responsibility is primarily spent on adapting children to social imperatives. Surprisingly, the more the parent insists, the more the child reacts.
For children, parents turn into enemies who constantly entrust them with unpleasant tasks (“Wash your hands… Hang up your jacket… Wash your teeth… Did you do your homework? Time for bed… Sleep…”) or force them not to do precisely what they want to do (“Don’t eat with your hands… Don’t jump on the couch… Don’t throw mud…”). Inevitably the children adopt the reactionary attitude: “I’ll do what I want!” And the parents retort, “You’re going to do what I say.”
Here are the most common techniques that adults use to ensure children’s cooperation:
1. Blame: “I see handprints on the door again! Why are you doing this, you’re telling me? What’s gotten into you, anyway? Can’t you do anything right anymore? How many times do I have to tell you that we’re grabbing the door by the doorknob to open or close? Is it that hard?”
2. Use ratings: “It’s freezing today, and you’re wearing a light coat! How stupid are you? I’ve never seen this nonsense before in my life.” “Come on; I’ll fix the bike. You don’t get your hands.”
3. Threats: “If you touch the lamp again, you will eat it.” “I will count to three. If you don’t get dressed, I’ll leave without you.”
4. Orders: “Right now, you’re starting to clean your room!” “Help us carry the bags. Come on, hurry up!”, “Still taking out the trash? Come on, what are you waiting for? Move!”
5. Sermons and morals: “Was it nice what you did now – to spread your hand and take my book? I am asking! It looks like you haven’t realized the importance of decency. You have to understand that demands rise to obligations. We can’t expect others to be kind to us, and we can treat them rudely. Would you like things to be taken out of your hands? No, of course not! So you shouldn’t either. What we don’t like others to do to us, we don’t do to others.”
6. Warnings: “Be careful, you’ll burn!”, “Beware, you’ll be hit by a car!”, “Don’t climb there! You’re going to fall!” “Put on your jacket; you’ll get cold!”
7. Self-sacrifice: “Will you stop screaming anymore? What do you want to do with me? I’m going to have a heart attack with your behavior!”, “Wait till you have kids, and you’ll see what am I feeling.”, “Do you see those white hairs? It’s because of you. Slowly, slowly, you send me to the grave.”
8. Comparisons: “Can’t you look a little like your brother? He always finishes schoolwork early.”, “Lisa’s behavior at the table is exemplary. You’ll never see her grab the food with her hands.”
9. Sarcasm: “You knew you were writing a test tomorrow, and you deliberately left the book at school, didn’t you? Brilliant!” “That’s what you’re going to put on? Striped blouse and a polka dot skirt? What compliments you’re going to receive today!”
10. Predictions: “You lied to me about your exams. If you keep this up, you’re gone! No one will trust you when you grow up.” No one’s going to want to play you any time soon. You’ll be alone, like a dick.”
To ensure cooperation…
1. Describe the incident or problem. It isn’t easy to do what is right when the other person criticizes us. It is easier to focus on the problem when it is described to us. When the adult describes the situation, he allows the child to understand on his own what needs to be done. The use of the description makes the recipient not feel guilty and pushes him to focus on solving the problem (“The milk was spilled. We need a sponge.” “The jar with the jam was broken. We need a broom.”). When describing the incident, the child listens in a different mood to the problem and takes more straightforward action to correct it. Descriptive comments work best when the child feels that help is needed.
2. Inform. Information is always received more favorably than the accusation. (“Kids, milk sours when left out of the refrigerator.”, “Half-eaten apples are for garbage.” ) When children are given the information, they understand for themselves what to do. With information, we help children consolidate general truths and provide them with the feeling that they are trustworthy. Avoid, however, giving the child already known information.
3. Formulate οne-word phrases. A one-word urge is more effective than a long answer. It saves time and relieves parents of the time-consuming process of lengthy explanations. (“Kids, PJs!”, “Katy, your lunch.” ) The application of the one-word comment prevents the use of oppressive commands while at the same time offering the child the opportunity to exercise initiative and sharpen his mind. Please do not use the child’s name as a one-word comment because it inevitably confuses it with rejection when he hears it regularly pronounced in a disapproving tone.
4. Externalize your feeling. Avoid comments about the child’s character or personality. Children deserve to know what their parents’ real feelings are. When we insufferably express what we feel on occasion, we help them understand their error without getting hurt. (“I don’t like being pulled up my sleeve!”, “It bothers me to keep the door open because flies go to the food.”, “I feel bad when I say something, and they interrupt me before I can finish.” ). The parents must express only their feelings, always using the first person. Some children show increased sensitivity to rejecting parenting. In these cases, it is best to tell your expectations.
5. Give your request in writing. Sometimes written speech is the most comprehensive way of expression. Most children – whether they can read or not – like texting. (Note stuck in the bathroom mirror: “Help, help! The hairs on the siphon are a pain in the ass. Jimmy, the clogged bathroom sink. ») They are excited when they receive their parents’ comments on the paper while at the same time indirectly being encouraged to write those letters or drawings. Parents still think it’s the fastest, easiest, and most effective way to get the message across to their children.
It is of great importance that we adopt authentic attitudes. It’s no use giving the impression of being sober when you’re feeling angry. Because of your dishonesty, you fail to communicate with the child. Excessive politeness keeps the rage imprisoned, which swells and at some point will manifest itself in the child.
If you don’t manage to “get the message across” the first time, it doesn’t mean you’ll resort to old techniques. You can combine skills and if you think it is necessary to speed up the application.
… and some recommendations:
· How a comment is made to the child is as critical as its content. The attitude we hold, that is, is just as important as the words we use.
· We say ‘please’ to children to promote standard rules of behavior acceptable to society. Its recruitment, however, under conditions of tension may prove to be detrimental. When you want immediate compliance, it is best to use emphatic comments rather than “please.” Speak loudly, clearly, and unequivocally and you will reach the goal faster.
· When the child does not comply with your instructions, ask yourself: – Is the message appropriate for the child’s age and perceptual ability? -Does he think the claim is unreasonable? -Is it possible to offer the option of electing instead of imposing my will “here and now”? -Can I offer an option of choice on how to carry out the obligation? -Is it possible to make physical changes in the house capable of causing the child’s cooperation? -Do I overdo it with the pressure I put on my child? -Do I devote most of the time I spend with him to the imposition of obligations?
· If you can approach the child with jokes, the better. That is a valuable additional weapon, as it sets the child in motion, gives him the impetus to act while improving the general mood inside the house.
· If you feel like repeating yourself, first check to see if the child has heard what you told him.
· If the child does not keep his commitment despite his positive response, ask him when he will have completed the work you have given him.
Faber, A., Mazlish, E., (1999). How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk, Collins