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Parenting Doesn't Have to be That Hard!


Ms. Hawkins confronted her son when he screamed he did "not want to live here anymore!" She questioned him, "Why is it you do not want to live here anymore, are you not getting what you want?" Her son responded with "I'm mad at you." Ms. Hawkins reported that occasionally he has to be told "one million times" to behave in church. She stated that she will pack him a snack and tell him, "You can have the snack if you behave at the church." Her son will tell her "If you really want me to be good, you have to give me more candy." He also tells her "Other people are nicer to me than you are, you're mean." Ms. Hawkins replied, "Why, what do I do wrong?" One thing for sure is that Ms. Hawkins is listening too much to her son.

Sometimes, we just work too hard at parenting. It really does not have to be this difficult. Why do we find it necessary to respond to the child's every statement? Help me! Fix this! Find that! Feed me now! Buy me this! Buy me that! I don't want to eat that! All of these are demands by a little person attempting to control his world. If we respond in a manner that the child views as pleasing, he will perform the demands again and again. You will become tired as a parent thinking that you have to respond to everything your child says or demands, and then your child expects the same treatment from others. Truth is you should be much more than that.

If you chose to parent only when it was necessary, you would work half as hard as you do now. Think about that, half as hard for the next fifteen years. That is a lot of time. What we as parents have to decide is: Is it necessary to respond to this question, this demand? The child who says, "I don't want to live here anymore," can be ignored, right? Where else can he live? End of conversation. How about the child who yells "I'm mad at you?" So what, he'll get over it. No discussion needed there. "Mom, I want this, I want that!" we can just keep walking; no need to respond. If he wants it, he can pay for it himself or save up for it. The child will eventually learn that these demands are not getting him anywhere, because we are not responding. See, you can work less and be more efficient.

Children are predictable with their behavior. Look at walking for instance. Once your child learned to walk, he very seldom returned to crawling because he found out walking works out better for him. How about crying. It used to be a baby would cry to let others know he was hungry. Nowadays, my son just tells me he wants to order a pizza, more economical and no crying. If you would just learn that whatever behavior you keep responding to with your child, your child will believe that it works, and he will keep right on using it. Your fault. This includes whining, crying, arguing, getting frustrated, using temper tantrums, and acting helpless. All are behaviors that we keep right on encouraging as we interact with our child. How come you can't clean your room? Why did you throw the Jell-O on the wall, why do you keep getting out of bed? Why did you hit your brother? Why did you lie to me? Instead, when your child yells that he doesn't like you, keep on walking. He says he hates you, keep on reading your magazine. He refuses to do his chore, go for a walk. Your child will soon realize his mistake. He hits his brother, remove the brother from the area; give your son a sponge for the Jell-o; ignore any post-bedtime activity; and your child will get it, sooner or later.

Stop interacting with your child, and he will select a more productive behavior, because that old behavior doesn't work anymore. Seems like a child should be the one to work harder figuring stuff out, not you. Be patient, your child will figure it out, just like you figured out crawling, walking, and writing cursive. Be selective about what you see as important with your child's behavior. Be attentive to that, forget everything else that seems non-productive. Take it easy, breathe. Parenting doesn't have to be that hard.

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