NO means NO
“People treat you only one way — they way you let them!”
Now think about your kids…how do they treat you? Do you have little ones who ask over and over again for something you’ve said no to until you finally say yes? Do they “ignore” you when you ask them to stop playing video games or watching TV to do something you’ve asked (for the zillionth time)? Do they roll their eyes at you when you ask how their day was? Do they use foul language or call you names, tell you they hate you?
How did you get to this place? How did you lose control and lose their respect? Because that’s what has happened. You have allowed your child to believe that THEY are in control and that they can have what they want, when they want it. You have lost your position and lost their respect.
I believe you probably fell into the trap of over-negotiating with your children when they were young. Maybe you were told or you read somewhere that it was important to explain to your child your reasoning in an attempt to get them to understand the WHY. I believe this attempt to reason with them shifted into you wanting their approval, their acceptance of your reasons.
No really. Take a moment and go back and read that sentence again…”you shifted into wanting their approval, their acceptance of your reasons”. Let that sink in…be honest with yourself…are you negotiating with them, explaining to them the WHY in an effort to get them to understand and agree with you? To avoid conflict? To like you? To be their friend?
This is the problem with modern day parenting. If you have fallen into the habit of over-explaining or over-negotiating with your children, it is likely that they now want to challenge your authority, your decision makings and your rules. You have taught them to do this! If over time, you have continually had to explain, negotiate every rule or decision, it is likely that you have found yourself compromising more and more and changing the rules more and more. You have been training your child to NOT accept your rules, to NOT listen to you. You have taught them to challenge you - likely without even meaning to!
So what do you do if you have been a parent who negotiated a lot with your child when they were little? Or you let your little one push and coax and turn your noes into yeses? What do you do to turn this around and now start setting limits, rules, expectations? Honestly, it’s not going to be easy. It will take a lot of work and it will test your commitment to wanting this to get better. You have years of habits to undo.
First, you need to let them know that some new rules and protocols are coming. Do one at a time. Talk about it when they are calm and things are going smoothly in your house. Let them know that from now on, when you say no, you mean no. That you won’t be changing your mind and you won’t be engaging in any discussion with them about it.
Secondly, when you first start implementing these new rules, be prepared for some anger from your child. They will push back and say it’s not fair. They may start yelling at you. Watch yourself. Don’t yell back. When you yell back, you end up on the same level as them. Your child just becomes more and more aggressive to win that battle. This is a slippery slope and will not bode well for their future relationships as an adult. Simply say to them “If I was your age, I wouldn’t like this decision either” and walk away.
Thirdly, you must reestablish yourself as the parent and the authority in the family. You must set firm rules & expectations around behaviour and stick to them. Choose your battles carefully. Figure out what are the top priorities for your house and start there. A big part of this is getting back to a NO means NO place. And a place where you only say it once. And you NEVER go back from it. That means you better pick your no’s carefully and mean it. What do you say when they ask why not?” You give one of six reasons: You aren’t old enough, it’s too dangerous, I won’t spend our money in that way, we don’t have the time for that, it doesn’t match our family values, we don’t like those kids.
Lastly, you must model how to handle conflict and anger. You must walk away, calm down, take a 5min break and never engage in a conversation with emotion. The same goes for them. They need to leave the area and go to their room to calm down. When they are calm and do what was asked of them, they can join the family again. An important part here is to not have any technology in their rooms. They can’t have their phones, a TV or video games. Their room needs to be a boring place with no one to interact with. There has to be a reason for your child to want to come out. Also, don’t harp on past mistakes. When they come out, do what was asked, thank them and move on. Focus on the positive behaviour you are trying to reinforce, not the bad behaviour you are trying to change.
It is important to be honest with yourself and to take responsibility for the way your child is behaving. If you are placing blame on outside forces (their friends, tv, video games) you aren’t ready to make this change. Remember, if you have spent the last 8,12, or 14 years teaching your child that you are a pushover, it won’t be easy to change that…it may take 3 months, it make take 3 years. But, it IS possible.