Do you use threats when your kids aren’t behaving?
Do you use threats to get your kids to behave? If I ask parents how often they use threats, most don’t think they use threats all that often — but if I ask how often do you hear yourself saying “If you don’t sit down, we’re going to have to leave” or “If you don’t stop fighting, you’re both going to lose the iPad” they realize that they are using threats more often than they realized.
Many parents think they are using threats because their kids are out of control. I invite you to consider that we tend to use threats most often when we, as parents ourselves, feel out of control. We are in the heat of the moment, our kids aren’t listening, we’re not sure what to do, and we are desperately trying to maintain control of the situation.
And when we’re feeling out of control and not sure what to do, we’re more frantic and reactive. We have moved out of our thinking brain where our logic resides — and without logic we end up throwing out threats that don’t make sense or that we don’t want to follow through on.
It’s like throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what will stick.
Do you really want to have to leave the restaurant mid-meal because you threatened your child with leaving if they don’t sit down? Most parents don’t!
But the problem with threats is that you actually have to follow through. The minute your child learns that they’re just threats with no consequences on the back end, they will start testing you more and eventually stop listening altogether.
So I invite you to ask yourself some questions to gain awareness of how you use threats in your parenting, and evaluate whether they’re effective:
When do you find yourself saying “If you don’t…” ?
What do you use as the threat most often?
Does your child change their behavior?
If they don’t, do you follow through with the consequence?
Kids do best with firm, consistent, and confident leadership. When you throw out threats and don’t follow through, you send the message that you’re not confident in your parenting.
If you want to parent more confidently, I invite you to check out one of my upcoming workshops. I will be in Dracut on March 9th, and am scheduling workshops in Beverly and Saugus. If you want to get notified as I schedule workshops so you can add some new tools to your parenting toolbox and get your most pressing parent questions answered, click here to sign up.
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