STANDING YOUR GROUND
by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families
Saying it is important for parents to 'stand their ground' is one thing. Actually making it work in any given situation seems to be quite another. But it doesn't have to be a stand off situation between you and your kids. You can be successful if you follow some of these tips.
First of all parents need to explain their expectations to their kids. This needs to be followed by training them until they can demonstrate to the parent that they can follow the required instructions.
The most efficient way to create overall expectations is to devise strong family values. These values become the basis upon which you can train your children. Obedience will be one of your family values so, e.g. when visiting a store, explain how you want your child to act. If you are not planning to buy anything for your child, this should be made quite clear before entering the store. In a quiet but firm voice you might say to the child, "Jonnie, I need to go into the store to get a few things. I want you to walk beside the buggy and not run away where I can't see you. I am not buying anything for you, so please do not ask for anything. We will be going straight home afterwards and I will get you some milk and cookies then. If you do not do as I ask we will have to leave the store and you will not get anything to eat until dinner time. Do you understand?"
When you explain clearly what you expect, then you do not find yourself making 'off the cuff' subjective decisions, or making endless threats while getting more and more frustrated. If you just do what you said you would do, you will find that your child will get the message quickly. It is not necessary to bribe kids with treats if they are good. Praise is enough. Children should learn to do as you ask them because you expect it and it is the right thing to do. Giving them treats if they are good is not preparing them for the real world.
Respect is another important family value. You may want particular behavior from your child when adult visitors come to the house. You train them how to greet visitors with eye-to-eye contact, a smile, and a handshake. You explain and train them not to interrupt adults who are talking. Tell your child that they may place their hand on your elbow to indicate they wish to speak to you. They are to just stand quietly until you give permission for them to talk. You explain what will happen if they do not follow your expectations and, should the time come, then you just carry out the pre-determined consequence.
It really is easy to stand your ground. It is only difficult when parents allow kids to whine and fuss so much that they give in for the sake of peace. If you give in when your kids are very small they will always find the weak spot, and it is very difficult to reclaim your ground again.
A very important aspect in training kids to meet your expectations is to praise them and thank them for doing as you ask. It is also important not to be unreasonable with your expectations. It is pretty hard for a hungry, tired child to have to follow you around a store. It is difficult to get immediate obedience if you have allowed a child to watch a TV program when, half way through it, you suddenly tell them to turn it off and pick up all their toys.
Kids do not want you to be wishy-washy, inconsistent, or indulgent parents. They want boundaries and they want you to say "No" sometimes. What they DO need is for you to explain what you want of them. They DO need training and praise for a job well done.
We have a great relationship with our adult kids. We worked out our child- rearing expectations at the beginning of our marriage and that made it easier. Our children's respect for us developed because we stood our ground. They knew where they stood in any given situation. They knew they would be praised for fulfilling expectations and receive consequences if they didn't. It was all worth it as we see a similar pattern of expectations now being displayed with our five grandsons.
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