We’ve all been there: In the grocery store trying to get in and out of there when your child asks for something and you say that nasty, horrible word, “NO.” It’s at this moment that we know our kids may completely loose it. This is our moment of truth, do we stick to our guns or give in? Sometimes we find ourselves giving in to something just to get the whining, crying or tantrum to stop. Sometimes we say “no, no, no, okay fine” in order to get some peace and quiet. Unfortunately, when we react in this manner we actually encourage our kids to get louder. Cry longer. Scream stronger. Each time we give in or fall back on our words and decide not to follow through we are telling our kids that the more they scream, the longer and louder they cry they will get what they want.
We need to remember that kids will continue to do what works for them. That being said, when we give in we tell them that their behavior works to get them what they want. In short what we have done is told them to repeat this negative behavior next time and they will end up with their end goal. Now, we all know this isn’t what we wanted to teach them or tell them, but it’s exactly what we did. Next time the behaviour will escalate further and get worse as in their minds they know that it will eventually work as long as they continue long enough and hard enough.
So now we are all wondering can this pattern be reversed? Can we put an end to this vicious cycle? YES!! What we need to remember is that our kids are looking to us for guidance and discipline. If we don’t do it, then who will? What happens when we don’t offer strong, consistent guidance and act as the ‘alpha’ of the relationship, then our kids try to jump in and become the alpha role. Each relationship needs someone to be in the alpha role and in the case of parent-child, it is our job as the parents to remain in this ‘alpha’ role even if it doesn’t mean pleasing our kids at all times. Todd Sarner goes into detail about the ‘alpha’ role and the importance of parents being a positive consistent alpha to help improve our child’s behavior.
Being in charge, the leader and role model means that sometimes our kids won’t be happy. Sometimes they will cry because they want something in the store that you have said ‘no’ to. Sometimes they won’t want to go to bed, but the fact of the matter is life isn’t always butterflies and unicorns. Often the times that are hard for us are the moments that lessons and life-skills are learned.
It’s our job as parents to teach life-skills to our children and sometimes that means we have to remain in the ‘alpha’ even if our kids are upset. They are looking for our guidance to show them we care enough about them to follow through. Next time your child is starting to escalate and get upset try to ask yourself: are you thinking to give in so you can PLEASE your child and quiet them down or are you going to follow through to TEACH them life lessons? In choosing the latter you will be gaining respect and better-behaved children who are feeling less anxious and more secure knowing that YOU are their alpha!