That calm implementation requires prior planning. The parent needs to spell out for the child what is and what isn’t acceptable behavior. The consequences for unacceptable behaviors need to be defined and agreed upon ahead of the infraction. For example, not getting off Playstation at the agreed upon time results in the loss of the game system for the rest of the day. If the parent must prompt the child a third time, he loses it for the next day as well. This expected behavior and the anticipated consequence are known to the child in advance; so that, if he choose to disobey, he knows what will happen. When the child disobeys, the parent, without getting angry and yelling, simply applies the anticipated consequence. The pain is linked to the consequence so the parent has no need to reinforce that pain by angry comments. Firm, consistent application of known consequences keeps the parent in charge and the child in line without resorting to angry, hurtful words. When the parent acts like this, she never surrenders control to the child. Mom and dad stay in charge, which every child longs for.
One of the most critical needs a child has is to feel secure. Security for a child happens when the child knows that mom and dad will set firm limits on that child’s behavior. The child understands that there is a loving, authority figure who will prevent them from crossing lines he or she knows they shouldn’t cross, engaging in behaviors they see as potentially harmful. No matter how much kids will protest in the moment, they want mom and dad to say “no” when needed.
When that child succeeds in getting mom and dad to capitulate to what the child wants, the child is in charge. Every child wants to be able to do whatever they want when they want to do it. So do adults! Yet, when a child comes out on top in a battle of the wills, he may win in the moment, but he loses the war. A child who can control his parents is a very insecure child. When a child is insecure, he will quickly revert to his native tongue – misbehavior. An insecure child wants attention and reassurance, and they figured out a long time ago that the quickest way to get mom and dad’s attention is to misbehave. Attention comes through validation and reassurance comes through firm limits set by an in-control parent.
Copyright 2008 G Brenton Mock