Dr Randy Cale’s Terrific Parenting: An End to Arguments and Negotiations | Local News
It seems that the pandemic is evolving behind us. Yet despite the new sense of freedom, many families are grappling with more conflict than ever before. Part of that has evolved from a world with many changing and inconsistent expectations for children and teens. Either way, it seems like a lot of kids are arguing and negotiating over every little thing. These repeated wastes of time and energy can start to drive anyone a little crazy.
The good news: it can be fixed.
The problem starts with inaccurate information.
Many of us have (wrongly) learned that children need a stronger voice to make decisions in their lives. We hear the war cry: “Give children more choice”. And so we listen and we look to our children to give them more choice.
In doing so, we are starting to give young children options where they shouldn’t. Children have undue influence over decisions which are the domain of the parents and which are not the domain of the child. When the child makes a bad choice, mom and dad begin to educate or negotiate. Depending on the temperament of the child, this can quickly lead to escalation and arguments.
Early discussions later lead to teenage arguments
As children get older, negotiations turn into arguments. They have gained the power to believe that their voice deserves to be engaged on almost anything, and they become more persistent in trying to do what they want. Once you take this route of negotiating and arguing, your life will be consumed, and often the arguments tend to get ugly.
How to end negotiations and arguments
1. Gain clarity on children’s decisions versus parents
Giving children more choice in matters within the child’s area of competence is healthy. We like it for the kids. Children should decide what toys to play with, what shirt to wear, and what friends to have on dates. These decisions promote independence and develop maturity over time.
Parental decisions require the understanding, wisdom and maturity of adults. Parents know that eating healthy foods won’t include sweets or fast food and will make those decisions. They know that kids need a regular bedtime and need to decide what time is right for them, given tomorrow’s schedule. It must be mom and dad who choose healthy boundaries in almost everything, not the child.
Do not let children enter the parental realm of decision making. If you do, life becomes very confusing. Inevitably, you will end up arguing and negotiating over every limit you try to set.
2. Make the parental decision only once
Decide on bedtime, screen time, and healthy foods in your kitchen. When dining out, make healthy decisions for your kids, and don’t open up negotiations about unhealthy options. Decide what clothes are right for your preteen or teen and don’t repeat yourself.
As a parent, we need to step into this psychological state of “certainty” and know that we are more competent and able to make good decisions than our children. This experiential skill is valid for decisions involving bedtime, healthy meals, phone use, video game limitations, the quality of homework, as well as a myriad of other critical parenting decisions that set the standards. limits necessary for children.
In every parenting area, find certainty and make the decision now. Do it once and write it down. Find peace with these and be done with it.
3. Never re-engage in argument or negotiation
Harnessing the power of disinterest is the magic and secret juice here. Once you are clear about parenting limits and healthy decisions, don’t repeat yourself and engage in debates or negotiations. Please note the limit so your children can see it… NOT hear it. Never repeat or try to justify yourself. At all costs, do not negotiate. Remain uninterested in all the dramatic efforts to entice you.
Why does it work? Because:
- Children only negotiate with parents who negotiate
- Children argue only with arguing parents
If you can grasp the power of it, then you can see how to end negotiations and arguments forever. You have to get away from the “bait”. And the bait can be tempting, as your kids pull together challenge after challenge. But, still, you walk away.
Remember: you have already made the decisions; no need to justify or argue. More importantly, you don’t have to win the argument. (Stick to the limits you set by managing your home in a manner consistent with those limits.)
If you can do this for the next 30 days, you will find that a miracle seems to happen. Your kids start to come to terms with boundaries without negotiation or fighting, which is remarkably satisfying.
Dr Randy Cale, a Clifton Park-based parenting expert, author, speaker and licensed psychologist, offers practical advice for a host of parenting concerns. Its website, www.TerrificParenting.com, offers free parenting advice and an email newsletter. Readers can learn more by reviewing previous articles found on The Saratogian, The Record, and The Community News websites. Send your questions to [email protected]