Lazy Parenting Hack - SAY IT ONLY ONCE
If I were to give new parents a list of my top parenting tips, this one would make the top 5.
Say it only once.
I often hear parents lamenting about how their children whine and pester them about things over and over again. And, when I probe a bit more, I find out the parent often ends up changing their “no” to a “yes” (meaning the child got what they wanted with the whining).
It’s SUPER important to recognize that every time we change our “no” to a “yes” we are reinforcing the whining and pestering behaviours. AND, the longer we last before changing our answer, the better the training we are giving our children to wear us down and become master negotiators.
A rule I gave myself and my children from the time they were young is this: I’ll only say it once.
Meaning, if you ask me something and I say no, ask me again and I’ll ignore you. Ask me AGAIN and I’ll start taking privledge a away.
Ex: Snacks before dinner
Child:”Can I have a cookie?”
Me: “Sure, after dinner.”
Child “But I want a cookie now—pleeeaaassssee!”
Me: “You can have a cookie after dinner, not before. Don’t ask me again or there won’t be any cookies after dinner either.”
If they ask again—no cookies.
If they accept my answer —cookies.
I’ve trained them since they have been young to only ask once. BUT I also don’t say no very often. If you notice in the above example, I didn’t say no, I just gave the conditions under which I would be able to give them what they want. Said another way, I am thoughtful before giving answers. I make sure the kids know I heard them. I make sure they know I understand what they want. And then, I make sure they understand why I have answered them the way I did.
The second part of this rule is to ensure that you don’t make decisions about some of the more touchy/sensitive questions without due thought/consideration. I learnt this as a high school teacher dealing with teenagers on a daily basis (really smart teenagers who wanted to fight me/question me on every mark they lost in their science tests). I often got myself in a pickle when I made rash decisions in the heat of the moment. I learnt the power of the saying “hmmm, interesting, let me think about that and get back to you.” This phrase bought me the time I needed to make sure I thought through all the possible outcomes and it gave me the added bonus of being able to consult with my other teacher friends about how they might handle certain situations/requests.
In combination, these 2 tips are MAGIC. They have eliminated almost all power struggles in my house. They have allowed me to remain calm when faced with a child hell bent on getting their way. All it takes now is a cold look, and a calm and deep “don’t ask me again” and my kids know I mean business and WON’T be changing my mind. Because I don’t.