Being a parent can be a very demanding job. You can be so busy with your children – meeting their needs, considering their schedules, and buying them supplies – that you begin to feel like their executive assistant, rather than being the parent. Remember, you are in charge, and children need an example of good leadership. Here are some tips to help you turn things around.
Tell your children what you expect. When the decision has been made, your child’s emotions are no longer part of the equation. For instance, when it’s time to go to school, you don’t need to ask your child, “Do you want to go get in the car?” Tell them, “I want you to get in your car seat now. We are going to school.”
Listen with empathy, but stick to your decision. It’s okay to accept your child’s feelings, but keep on track. If your child expresses negative feelings, you can say, “I know you were having fun, but today is a school day.” Don’t expect your child to be positive about your requests. The important thing is for them to do what you have asked.
Follow through with consequences calmly. Since you are in charge, you have the right to insist on obedience. There is no need to threaten, or yell to get them to obey, if you are ready with consequences. It may take three or four times for your child to realize you are serious if you haven’t been consistent. When your child does not get in the car, tell him that you could put him in yourself, but then you’ll be too tired to put in his CD. If you are dealing with an older child, be prepared with, “I understand you need more time in the morning for your hair, but being late is not an option. I’ll need to wake you up earlier if you can’t be ready.”
Do not label them as bad, or call them names. You can offer them guidance when they misbehave, so they will learn from their mistakes. Instead of saying, “You are a bad boy for hitting,” say “Hitting is not a good way to deal with emotions. Let’s think of some words you can use.” With an older child say, “If you stole something, the best way to fix your mistake is to admit it and say you are sorry. We will take that candy back to the store and apologize to the cashier.”
If your children have their own opinions and want their own way, be glad. They will be willing and able to take action in their adult lives. But for now, your leadership will give them a feeling of security and stability. And you will be setting an example for them to follow when they become parents.