Raising and educating children is a challenging adventure that while many parents experience they discover that each child has their own way of seeing and translating the world from their point of view, and no one is like the other in behavior. At the same time, the common desire of all the children to try to break conventions and hit parent’s nerves causes a daily and exhausting war, but ultimately the love that comes from both sides makes up for it.
Nonetheless, you can avoid this headache and instead of getting angry and “losing it,” you should read the following 9 tips to help you cope with the different situations that parents around the world experience almost every day. Although short and simple, they will give you tools and suggestions for creative and effective solutions to those explosive situations.
1. “I know it’s hard”
When your child encounters a problem that is difficult for them to get through, the frustration they experience can affect them in the long run and a sentence such as “why are you making such a big deal? a three-year-old could figure this out,” can be even more problematic and cause more damage. Instead, approach them with a smile, but with a face that conveys strength and say, “I know it’s hard, but I know you can do it.” Such reinforcements not only conceal the frustration but also increase the child’s confidence and give him/her tools for the future with which he/she can overcome many obstacles.
2. “Please walk”
There’s no parent in the world who hasn’t been out with their kids when suddenly one (or all of them) starts to run ahead … Our initial response as a parent is to call out “Stop running!” And hope that they do, and another similar event occurs when you argue with them about something and you just get tired of it so you say “Stop arguing!” – words that only encourage children to continue the argument.
To achieve the desired effect you must act differently, you must instruct them what to do (as opposed to what not to do) with a direct and positive approach. For example, if you want the child to stop running, tell them to “walk please”, instead of saying “Stop arguing!” say, “Just say yes, mommy/daddy.” According to Dr. Joan Ershler, director of the Waisman Early Childhood Program at the University of Wisconsin. By doing this, you’re telling them what to do in a gentle way which won’t lead to an argument.
3. “What did I say?”
The next sentence is one that should be said with a lot of caution, why? Because it’s meaning all depends on how it’s said. This sentence can sound like you’re scolding your children, when in fact all you wanted to do was emphasize the fact that you said or asked them to do something important. So if you’re going to say this sentences to your children, pay attention to how you say it, but don’t rule its use out completely, and if your situation and your child’s age allow it, simply explain your intentions.
4. “I love you very much and do not want to argue with you”
A family system is a complex matter, on the one hand, we want our kids to be our best friends, and on the other hand, there’s an expectation that they follow rules and do what we say. But what should we do when the child thinks that the parent is too much of a friend and allow themselves to argue almost anything? Instead of getting into an argument with your child, just listen to their side without getting upset and fighting back.
If you disagree with them, don’t say something like, “No, it’s not going to happen the way you want,” but tell them kindly and happily, “I love you and I do not want to argue with you.” These words shut down the conversation and leave no room for conflict, and at the same time, they help our children understand that we love them and only want their best even if they don’t appreciate it.
5. “How do we ask?”
Parents of young children know the scenario in which the child wants either food or something else, and instead of asking for what they want, it comes off more like a demand, “Bring me a cookie” or “I want a ball.” Some parents will bring the thing that their child has asked for, and while giving it to them say – “and what do we say?” But the best way is simply to remind them to ask (yes, even if they know they should) before you give them what they want because that’s the best time to teach manners.
6. “Another 5 minutes and we’re leaving”
Almost all of us were in a situation where a visit to the playground with a child ended in an argument, running after the child or having to look for them in one of the slides… Usually, out of rage, we threaten to leave them there and go and, according to Dr. Alan Serupi, head of the Institute for Child Development at the University of Minnesota in the United States, this threat can undermine the child’s confidence because it makes them feel exposed and unprotected.
Instead, try to explain to the child in simple terms -even if you have to, wait a while until they stop crying, and say, “In five minutes we’re leaving, get ready.” This way it will be easier to deal with the transition. You could also try phrasing it differently: “Come on, sweetheart, we have to go get ready for dinner, we’re leaving in five minutes.” The awareness of this period of time gives children the chance to part with their friends or playground and thus have an easier time leaving the place.
7. “Finish doing what I asked you, only then you can …”
You should make it clear to your children from an early age that everything in life has consequences, and you can’t just get things without paying. This doesn’t mean that they can be punished for everything, but it is clear that in order to receive special benefits and privileges, they will first have to perform the tasks required of them. So instead of saying to the kid “You can’t go out because your room’s a mess”, just say “You’ll be able to play outside as soon as you finish cleaning up your room.” The description of the assignment should be clear and not a set of instructions, for example, “tidy up your desk and make your bed,” and not “tidy, clean and wash the room” – small children may be lost in this tangle of instructions, and the simpler the task is the easier it is for them to do.
8. “Can you show me another way to do it?”
Today’s children are much more sophisticated and developed than previous generations, they have higher cognitive abilities and our duty as parents is to help them develop them further. There are many developmental games that improve thinking and provide them with extra knowledge, whether its puzzles of different sorts etc. and sometimes they solve these puzzles differently then what was intended by the creators of the game.
So, if you’ve purchased, received or played with such games and solved them in one or more ways, let your children try on their own and let them come to a solution of their own. If they’ve solved it and you know for sure that there is another way, ask them to try to reach the additional solution and encourage them to succeed. For example, don’t tell them “I know another way, you’re never going to figure it out,” rather tell them “I notice that there’s another solution, can you figure out another way to do it?” This sentence will challenge and encourage them to find the additional solution, and even increase the feeling that you trust them and believe that they’ll succeed.
9. “Let’s try it again. I’ll follow you, and then you can follow me”
The desire to be like mom or dad is a characteristic inherent in almost everyone until adolescence and sometimes till an even later age. Therefore, the way a parent behaves both consciously and subconsciously affects most children and parents need to serve as examples because there’s always someone watching and copying them. Use this fact to your advantage and if you see that your child is trying to do something that you’ve done, but isn’t doing it quite right and fails, do not tell them “You’re wrong, that’s not the way to do it” rather ask them to try again, but this time emphasize that you’ll follow their actions. This will increase their self-confidence, allow you to serve as a good example and prevent them from developing a paralyzing fear of failure.
In conclusion, there is another sentence that every parent should take advantage of after each new experience or learning process:
“Remember this next time.”
This simple expression allows children to take a positive view of the challenge or obstacle you’ve encountered together, emphasizing that the failure of now is not permanent. When they face similar situations in the future and remember what you said or taught them, they’ll be happy and thankful and you’ll feel proud that they were able to overcome. Even if it happens, and even after the second and third time, they continue to have difficulty coping successfully with the situation, always tell them softly and patiently, “Remember this next time” after you help, until they’re finally able to overcome obstacles on their own.
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