CSV WIC mar20

A Happy Child

Part Two

"Why do I have to do it?" he queries his mother, "Why me? Why me? How come? I don't want to!" Do not be fooled by this child's attempt at interaction with his parent. He is not trying to be a troublesome child nor is he atypical. What we have here is a child who has been strongly influenced by an ongoing media blitz of television and movies depicting family life as corrupt and dysfunctional. Your job as a parent is to guide him toward a satisfactory functioning level. The strategy in responding to a child who is questioning your authority is to not participate with your child when he attempts to do so. That will make him happy.

What this mother should do is say, "I'll be glad to talk with my son when he finishes his chores," and walk off. She sees no need for arguing, scolding, or dealing with discontent attitudes, temper tantrums. She merely expects her son to do as told. As she walks, her son is still huffy about the request, "Why do I have to do this now? I hate this." He has viewed this scenario on television a million times. The parent is supposed to turn around and argue, and he truly expects it to happen.

Does that type of interaction feel good to the parent, solve any problems, and create a good sense of self for the child? Yes, and it will be the first step toward making this child a Happy Child. The parent will have a sense that the child will be able to have a logical reaction to what the parent has done. When the parent does not continue to respond to the child's slurs and arguments, what has the child got left? Nothing. In fact, all he remembers is his poor attitude and the polite treatment he received from his parent. This is the beginning of a child being able to experience guilt.

Parents often believe that a child can understand the logic of learning to complete one's work duties, if the parent can just explain it enough. Yet, typically, parents have been participating in this arguing scenario with their child for years. The child continues to believe that he is within reason for arguing with his mother. As he may report, "We've always done this." The problem with this type of interaction is that people always end up unhappy.

Your job as the parent is to assist your child in maturing into a capable, responsible, mature individual who recognizes and responds appropriately to the needs of others as well as his own needs, thus becoming a happy individual. This can only be accomplished when the child learns at an early age to accept authority. It is the parent's responsibility to initiate this authority recognition process. However, the child will not recognize this authority if the parent continues to argue and banter back and forth with the child as if they were two siblings arguing about who gets to sit in the front seat of the car. This unhappy child is being taught that it is acceptable to argue with his parent, call his parent demeaning names, and to walk off indignantly. It will only be a matter of time before he tries the same behavior on other adults outside of the home.

What will work for the parent is: tell the child what is to be done; ask the child to repeat it; and then leave the child alone. You have done the first part of your job by stating WHAT you need accomplished by him. The next step is up to him. Should he counter with an "It's not fair," remark, you know he continues to lack maturity. You only need to wait the child out, as this is a "learn-by-doing" exercise. When your child receives no further feedback from you, he has a choice: do the task now or later. Either one is acceptable to you. Allow the child to wander about in his room pretending to be defiant. He is merely seeking to determine who is the stronger. When your child comes up to you and asks for something to eat, your response is the same as earlier, "I'll be glad to talk with my son when he finishes his chore," and that's that! Should you find him on the computer, simply turn the screen off or shut it down, saying the same thing as before. This tactic is known as the "broken record" technique. As the child slowly realizes that there are no privileges available to him, he will likely realize the only successful way out of this dilemma is to complete the chore. No matter how long it takes for him to finish, leave him alone. When he does complete his chore, you may smile at him and remind him that the computer is available now.

Your child will likely smile back acknowledging that he has completed his chore and will now receive the benefit of his completed work. Your positive response to him illuminates for him that he has pleased you and this allows him to feel pleased with himself. He is a now a Happy Child, and you are the one responsible for it. So, now, you can be a Happy Parent.

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