The Easiest Way to Eliminate Conflict With Your Child
Being a parent is the best job in the world. Actually, when you love your child unconditionally, it's not a job at all. And when they do what you ask, it's Heaven!
So why do we feel bad when we have to correct our child? Then it feels like a job. And often a job that we don't excel at because conflict begets conflict and it only spirals down from there.
We've all been here. We tell our child that they can't sleep over at Susie's this weekend, or we tell them that they need to do something that we deem important, and what happens?
They say "I hate you."
They slam the door.
They have a tantrum...
This happens throughout the parenting years...sometimes even when they've left the nest!
And we feel like a horrible parent who's doing a horrible job. .
I remember when I was a Brownie leader. My daughter was in my third grade troop of course, and I made a concerted effort to treat her exactly the same as everyone else. Nothing more, and nothing less.
During one after a long day at school troop meeting, she had a meltdown. It was something about not getting a turn during circle time or something like that. She just started bawling and screaming at me. I didn't understand what I had done wrong. We simply went around the circle and maybe she was last that time. I don't recall. But for whatever reason, she came unglued.
What was I to do? Yell at her? Coddle her? Ignore her? Listen and work it out right there until she was happy? I was at a loss and her tantrum was escalating.
So here's what I did.
I gave her a choice.
As the tears poured down her flushed face and her voice reached a fevering pitch, I said the following.
I can see you are upset. I am sorry that you didn't get your turn today. But even so, a tantrum is not acceptable. So you have a choice. You can take a break, calm down and rejoin the group, or you can continue to be upset and wait outside the group until the meeting is over. We can discuss it then, but for now, this is your choice.
I could see the wheels turning as she took in gulps of air - her chest heaving and the tears still streaming...
The anticipation was overwhelming. I felt guilty, annoyed, sad and at the same time wanted to give her a big hug and leave right then. I knew instinctively (as parents we develop that seventh sense) that what she really needed was to take a nap on the way home and have a nice dinner with quiet music playing. And then I would read to her while she sat next to me snuggled up in her favorite down blanket.
I could tell her day had been long and stressful and she was exhausted. But I also had to finish the meeting and honor the fact that no one else was having a meltdown.
I waited. In silence. For her answer. It was a long stretch of quiet. No one in the room said a word.
Slowly, her body settled and she wiped the final tears. She rejoined the group without a word.
And with that, I finished the meeting.
Sure enough, on the way home, she fell asleep and the evening routine was just what the doctor ordered. We talked about it as I tucked her in. I'll paraphrase what she told me.
I was tired Mom. We had three tests and I didn't get the part I wanted in the play. And then in Brownies, I didn't get a turn.
I hugged her close and told her that I understood, and that tomorrow was going to be a brighter day.
As parents, it can be hard sometimes...
But when we offer a clear choice, it really is the best way to parent. Why? Because it gives our children the power to make their own decision. Even if it's A or B, it is still their decision. And that builds confidence.
When you do this, not only are you helping your child practice making decisions, but you’re also helping them shape their character by allowing them to develop the qualities all good decision-makers share, including:
Trust in themselves and their opinions
So give you child choices. At all stages of their development.
And guess what? You'll continue to love your job as a parent ... and your child will love you even more for it!