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ParentingPanicButton » parenting advice, parenting tips » Collateral, Currency and Clout Part 1

Collateral, Currency and Clout Part 1

Child- Healthy Substitutes for Punishment, Shame, Blame, Arguing, Yelling, or Hurting

We love our children, and always will, no matter how much they frustrate, upset, disappoint or anger us. From the day they are born, it is their job to push away from us on a journey to become independent, “big” and in love with freedom.   The deep love we have for our children is our joy and our nemesis.   So often, people can see from the outside that our kids are “working us” and clearly in the drivers seat.  We may see it but fall prey to its power, or the desire for avoidance of conflict.  And, so often we see it clearly in the dynamic between other children and their parents.   

Why is it so hard for us to do what is best for our child?

The latest fashion clothes, expensive shoes, media devices, computer games, eating out, money for movies (and everything else!), elaborate vacations and specialty camps, the gift of a car, the newest cell phone, internet service, many “luxury” extracurriculars are just a few of the things some modern day parents aim to provide for their children.  Less tangible items we strive to give them are trust, attention, special care, freedom, choice of a good college, an open ear, pets, rides and transportation everywhere, are also added to the list of other ways we “gift” them.   Finally, we also give them the freedom from physical and emotional abuse, freedom from hunger, medical care, tutoring, and help with schoolwork.

 At the same time, we observe that many of our children are entitled, self-centered (even narcissistic), lazy, unresponsive, don’t return messages, and may be generally void of gratitude.  We find that arguing, negotiating and emoting don’t work and are counter-productive.    

 So, how can we do things better?

1. Be prepared! Study and be well rehearsed on the issues that are bound to come up with each new stage of development.  This involves parenting partners putting heads together on the essential issues before they come up. You can’t anticipate them all, but you can “predict” a good number of them.

For children, some of the basics are bedtime, getting up in the morning, hygiene, chores, cleaning rooms, lying, swearing, not following through on promises, homework, social issues, self-endangerment, practicing instruments, any level of tantrums, rants or physical violence, ice-cream excursions…

For pre-teens and teens it can be some of the above as well as substance issues, shoplifting, questionable choices of friends, arguing and negotiating, self-harm, suicide, depression, unresponsiveness, coming in late and not calling, sexuality, steady partners, dropping commitments, problems at school, cutting classes, computer gaming addiction, out of control media habits.

2. Take your child’s issues and behaviors seriously, but not personally.  It is often their design and task to distract, blame, “guilt” and “hurt your feelings” in order to control the situation and avoid being held responsible for the outcome.

3. When an issue comes up that you are not ready for, or incapable of handling in the moment, take a breath and don’t react.  Go back, think it over, talk it over and map out a plan or a strategy   Most situations are not emergencies.  Treating non-emergencies like emergencies makes us make mistakes, ridiculous threats, and say things we regret.  It is wise to “sleep on it”, while letting the child know in the moment that you are going to “Think about it and get back to them about the consequences.”

4. Teach and model gratitude. Entitlement (in the negative sense) is a virus of this generation.  It means a child expects his/her parents to provide, do things and give unconditionally.  The response will often be complacency, assumption, apathy and even sometimes, bad behavior.   Personally, we have noticed that the two gifts we have given our children (at any age!) which have led to the most entitlement and bad behavior have been “watching movies”, and “sleepover parties.”   The parent often incurs the punishment in the end for offering these activities.   

Restraint and Gratitude are the antidotes for entitlement. As my sister told her son in his adolescent years, “All I have to do is house you, feed you, clothe you and keep you safe.  Everything else is conditional.”

5. When enacting a consequence, be clear, proactive and plan to follow through. A dropped consequence is worse that no consequence at all.

6. Avoid parenting out of “exhaustion”.  Be kind to yourself and others by understanding your limitations and those of your child when you are tired.



C 2012 Rick Concoff 


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