Many of my clients tell me they scream at their kids and they feel horrible. Their kids do, too. Why are they screaming? I’ll tell you why. Because none of them feel they have the right to tell their children what to do.
We’ve been told for so long now that telling is absolutely the worst thing a mother can do. Today parents—mostly moms but also some dads—ask nicely, ask again and again, prompt, hint, beg, use humor, threaten, bribe—and then when all those fail, they LOSE IT and feel guilty.
We moms have stopped telling and started yelling. That is the problem.
Experts have said to make sure you “hear” your children and then enlist their cooperation. Get them on your team. Be their playmate and their teammate. But who’s the coach supposed to be? The nanny?
The latest parenting book I read said to “say what you see” and then empathically talk to your children. It goes something like this: “I see you’re angry at mommy because mommy told you to put away your toys. Is that how you’re feeling now? Angry? Mommy is saying it really nicely and asking you to please put away your toys. Does it make you sad to put them away? Are you feeling sad now??”
This should make you feel sad because we’re failing our children with this lack of leadership.
In our desire to never upset our kids we are driving both them and us crazy! We take their emotional temperatures 24/7. They’re exhausted and we’re exasperated. We have many well-intending parents all over the country who are “hearing” their kids and then resorting to screaming when their kids don’t hear them. This is a problem. In fact, I would say it’s THE problem. If your three-year-old doesn’t listen to you most of the time, do you think it’s going to get any better when he’s six or a pre-teen? It’s not.
No matter what the reason, the parent who yells is out of control. Kids would rather be told what to do by a loving, authoritative parent than screamed at by a wishy-washy one.
Stop yelling and start telling. There’s more to it than that, but this blog can’t be War and Peace.
Start there. Once you’ve stopped asking and started telling, you’ll be ready for more.
Let me know how it goes!