Monday, December 24, 2007

on authority and fallibility

Here were the poster's options when a child was ignoring, back-chatting or refusing to do what she told him to:

"1. Ignore even though this means you don't get what you want done.
2. Physically make him - by picking up etc, not by smacking.
3. Keep repeating until they eventually do do as you have asked."

All of these options assume that what the parent wants is what is going to happen and what should happen.

1. Is it possible that what the parent wants is simply wrong?

2. Is it possible that there is an alternative course of action for parent and child which everyone will prefer to their original preference and be genuinely happy with?

3. What do children learn from being ignored/physically made to do things/having someone repeating instructions at them ad nauseam? That Mum is boss, right? What is that authority based on and how long is it going to last? If the power struggles are bad with 6 year olds or 3 year olds, the teen years are going to be nuclear meltdown. We can't control our children for ever, and the sooner we establish a relationship of mutual respect and trust, the better.

Me, I'd always try to negotiate something everyone is happy with rather than setting myself up as the authority figure.stop asking them to do things they don't want to do.

Positive alternatives:

1) suggest things with actions not words (e.g. not "put your coat on!!" but just get the coat ready to put on if they want it). It's like those Calvin and Hobbes cartoons where what the parents say is just blah blah blah.

2) acknowlege that you might be wrong (maybe they just aren't cold)

3) be ready to save the day later (by tucking the coat in your rucksack).

4) think of something even better for everyone, the more playful the better

No need for conflict :-)

Astonishingly, these ideas were flamed only by the original poster, and two other commenters on the thread were supportive. That must be a less-mainstream mainstream message board...