Behavioral Strategy: Avoid The Grey Areas And Deal Only With Black And White
Oh Please, Don't Say Maybe!!!!
Are you often a participant in an unraveling parent-child interaction? Well you're not alone. Interactions between parents and their children often transgress before our eyes.
All children's first years should be filled with verbal stimulation to build language and literacy skills. Each day should be full of discovery and offer opportunities to gain new skills and learn new concepts. Talking to your children openly and honestly and encouraging verbal interaction is a critical component of healthy and successful development. Sometimes, though, a parent-child interaction spins quickly out of control and leaves the parent wondering "What happened? I thought I had this under control?"
All too often the origin of the conflict is established by the use of one simple word: "Maybe." This one uncomplicated morsel of verbiage has the power to evoke quite a forceful reaction at times. "Why?" you may question. The answer is as absolute as your response should be to your child: You just don't use the "maybe" word.
Raising a child is probably the most gratifying job any of us will ever have -- and one of the toughest. We live in an increasingly complex world that challenges us every day with a wide range of issues that are difficult for children to understand and for adults to explain. The issues are biggies: terrorism, war, AIDs, sex, death, and a host of other sensitive topics that just didn't exist when we were growing up.
It's not always easy to talk to your kidsóbut it's always important. Consider this: if we don't talk with them -- and answer their questions -- they'll get their facts from someone else. And we'll have missed an important parenting opportunity.
When responding to questions posed by your child, whether it's a question about the tough issues or a question about attending a sleep over or eating a cookie before dinner, clarity is the name of the game. If a child asks a question, the very least we can do is answer it, and answer it precisely. The amount of uncertainty produced by "maybe" is very often the catalyst for the conflict.
Here are some essentials to assist you in becoming more accomplished in talking to your child:
- Always respond to your child
- Strive to understand your own feelings regarding their request or question
- Reply with a definite yes or no
- Clarify your reasoning
- Offer them the methods and/or means to achieve their request
- Be conscious of their reaction(s), anxiety usually precedes the outburst
Remember: We all, young and not so young alike, find relief in knowing where we stand.
Dr. Charles Sophy, author of the "Keep 'Em Off My Couch" blog, provides real simple answers for solving life's biggest problems. He specializes in improving the mental health of children. To contact Dr. Sophy, visit his blog at http://drsophy.com/.