My 10 year-old, B, still makes many questionable decisions. Take today, for example. I took my 3 angels out to a nearby creek. We waded, looked for fish and tadpoles and got generally “mucky.” That’s our idea of a perfect summer afternoon.
But, my eldest only “met us on the way.” He decided the creek we chose was too far (we were scooter-ing and wagon-ing there). So, he set off in another direction. His 4 year-old brother screamed down the street after him. And I calmly put my 2 youngest babes in the wagon and led them onward. Within 6 minutes I heard the rumbling of my son’s motorized scooter behind us. I smiled. B said “I don’t know why I left my family. What would I do without you?”
There are some basic parenting tenents I follow when working through my son’s choices and his apparent lack of respect for my leadership.
- DON’T WAIVER. While discussing a plan, changing your mind is alright, but once you are moving forward don’t give in to your child just to avoid the attitude (or screaming of a 4 year-old brother, in this case).
- It’s OK to BE SCARED. It’s a risk to let let your child walk away and be his own boss, make his own plan, or separate from you. In this case I knew exactly where my son was headed. I wasn’t afraid for his safety, I was afraid he wouldn’t come back to us. He hadn’t listened to me and that’s scary, too.
- HAVE FAITH IN YOUR CHILD. B knows I don’t give up on him. Did I have to go to the other park and “round him up” if he had, indeed, left us with no qualms, no plan and no explanation? YES. But I was really hoping he would do the right thing. Most kids do and ADHD kids really want to but they need. . .
- TIME***. Give your child the chance to make the right decision. He wants to listen to you because it’s the right thing to do. Children have a strong sense of right and wrong and they will make the more loving choice when given time.
If children are shown love and respect they’ll use those powers to make better decisions.
***Some parental directives don’t have the luxury of time. “Get out of the street (safety). Please leave NOW to catch the bus (routine). Separate from your brother because you’re angry and could hurt each other (emotional outburst–establish a safe-zone). Those commands must happen pretty swiftly. This post is not about those times (although I have written another post about the above situations). This post is about giving your child the chance to do the right thing. He will glow with pride when he “done good” and it was without your prompting (or yelling).
This post is about giving your child the chance to do the right thing.
As we waded in the creek, I said, “B, you did it. You came back to find us, even though you wanted to go to the other park.” And he just beamed and planted a big, wet kiss on my cheek. I hope he never grows out of that.
What strategies do you use to build your child up instead of (and when he probably deserves) simply doling out a punishment?
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