I said, no, how many times do I have to tell you?
by Michelle Shelton
"How many times do I have to tell you?" Do you ever hear yourself saying this to your children? If so, you may be struggling with children that are unhappy, unmanageable, whiny, screamers, hitters, biters, unsociable, and down right hard to handle. These children may behave when you are with them but the minute your back is turned, they do the dastardly deed.
Why do these 9 words have such an impact on your child's behavior? This type of parenting is called threatening / repeating parenting. The parents that do this type of parenting are consistent in it which is funny because it really is an inconsistent way to parent a child and I think it is even cruel. This type of parenting produces insecure, selfish, angry, and sneaky children. These children are often so out of hand that the parents will turn to labels such as ADD, ADHD, Autistic. Often they are medicated to correct this behavior. The frightening thing is? It is learned behavior. It is actually taught to the child by the parents. Not intentionally mind you but if you run over someone while driving and don't do it intentionally, they are still dead, aren't they?
It amazes me to see that people will spend years in school training themselves to make a living yet they will not read a book on how to parent a child. They are educated in a variety of things and will learn to be efficient in cooking, gardening, sewing, finances, working on the computer and more, but they won't teach themselves to be a better parent!
Depending on the temperament of the child, the poor behavior that stems from this type of parenting can be extreme or mild. Some children don't test the limits of authority the way other, more strong willed children do. If you have a strong willed child he will ask over and over until he gets his way or he will simply demand his way in a variety of fashions such as screaming, temper tantrums, or stomping of feet. He may also just wait until you are out of sight to do what he wants, you could have a real problem on your hands once he is older than 4. These children are usually aggressive toward siblings and playmates and don't like to share or play with others. They are used to getting their own way by pushing for it. They push and push and push until your "no" turns into a "yes". The worst part is they wear you down until you almost always say "no" the first time they ask for something and then later change your answer to "yes". They count on this behavior from you and it becomes a vicious cycle.
What can you do as a parent?
The first thing you can do is become aware, which you are doing by reading this article. Awareness comes from listening to yourself and your spouse to see if you hear these words, "how many times do I have to tell you...?" If you are frustrated and not sure where to turn, chances are you have been using threatening / repeating parenting methods. After you determine that you have been using this type of parenting you need some tools to help you get your behavior under control. Before you can control your child's behavior you have to control your behavior. If you have been inconsistent in your decisions, the child will be inconsistent in his behavior.
Do you have a parenting plan?
This type of parenting stems from not having a plan of action. Have you ever heard someone with no money say, "we will start saving money when we make a little more and have some extra to put away."? It never happens no matter how much money they make because they don't understand that saving money is a discipline that you do before you pay your bills. Saving money begins with a plan, a budget, so you know what to do and when to do it and how to do it. Saving is a difficult thing to do when you begin a plan but without a plan, it will most certainly fail for lack of direction. Parenting is the same thing. You may stumble on some good ideas along the way and things that work but I call this fly by the seat of your pants parenting. It is always better to create a plan and work from it.
Another solution would be to hire a personal parenting coach. We often go to friends and relatives with questions on raising our children and they may not be trained or have the information you need to move you toward success. If they do have the information they may not know how to deliver it or articulate it in a helpful way and they also may not want to share it with you for fear of isolation. As parents we are all very protective of our methods of parenting and we want to think that we are doing the very best with our children. We don't feel comfortable offering advice to family members when we see a problem. We don't want to jeopardize the relationship even if we suspect we may have answers or solutions. It is difficult to admit we have a problem and sometimes we think it is just a stage or part of the normal process of raising children that we must go through as parents. I think that is where the term, "terrible twos" and "teenager" comes into play.
© 2003 by Michelle Shelton. All rights reserved
Michelle Shelton is an author, parenting coach, parent consultant, acclaimed public speaker, and parent educator. Michelle is the author of the well known column Life with all these Kids. Visit her web site www.keys2kids.com or contact her at 480-888-9352.
Used with permission.
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