Clinica Sierra Vista WIC

Parenting: Doing A Good Job

by Michael E. Kirk, PhD
Dr. Kirk is a local clinical psychologist, father and grandfather, who specializes in working with families, adolescents, and children.

Father stomps into the kitchen, grabs his young son by the shirt, and roughly demands, “Get all of that junk picked up, NOW!” The young man looks at his father and replies, “What junk?” Father stares at the boy and blurts out, “The stuff I told you about this morning. What is the matter with your brain? You got rocks in your head?” The boy looks at his father like he is a total stranger and replies, “I don’t know.” Father then demands, “Get all that junk out of here right now, or it’s all going in the trash can.”

This scene is played out time and time again.  Parents believe that whatever Parenting tactics they have learned along the way can be continually applied to their immediate family members. Unfortunately, the tactics that Father is using will achieve anything but success.  He probably spoke with the child in the morning just as he did in the evening with no apparent success. If the goal is to alienate the child, isolate him from the family, and end up with him feeling betrayed and disliked, then the plan is a success. However, if parents desire to have success with their child in a different manner, such as developing a mutual relationship born out of love and respect, well then, things are going to have to change.

To be successful with our children, we must use a language of love and respect.  By using both of these components in your communication with your child, he is more likely to achieve a significant level of success in complying with his parents’ requests. If the father had spoken, in private, with his son in the morning and said: I would very much appreciate all this stuff being picked up before I come home tonight,” then smiled and patted his son on the head or kissed him, there would have been a chance of success. The parent would have left the child feeling loved, and the child would have returned the favor.

What can be done to help a child become more compliant will take time but is very effective. The father merely has to wait until the child requires something of him or the mother. Then, they both can proclaim, “We will be glad to consider what our son is requesting just as soon as he has completed his clean-up task.” In this fashion, the child is informed unequivocally that until his task is complete, his parents are not available. The trick of course is to wait for it.

The respect that you show your child in the face of noncompliance will eventually earn his compliance. Whatever emotion you end up feeling from the encounter with your child is the emotion he is telling you that he experiences with you. Think about how you feel when your child interacts with you, and if necessary, change your reaction toward him to how you want to feel in return. Remember the phrase: “Do unto others as you would have them to do unto you? This process works well with children – be kind, gentle, and firm. Wait for the good behavior to be displayed, then nod to your child and say “Good job.”  You will have done a good job too!

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Tags: Featured Story, Parenting, Tweens & Teens

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