Angry responses – escalating situations

A mom explained how their peaceful evening fell apart when her 4-year-old son, Carl, irritated his dad by refusing to go brush his teeth. By the time their short exchange had ended, she wished she could rewind the situation and start over.

Dad: “It’s time to brush your teeth.”
Carl: “That’s stupid.”
Dad: (now angry) “Go to your room! There will be no brushing your teeth or story time tonight.”
Carl: “You’re a poopy head!”
Dad: “You’ll also go without dessert for a week!”

Carl then began crying and thrashing around in his room. While the mom wanted to support her husband’s parenting decisions, she also really wanted to have story time and thought that denying Carl dessert for a week was too harsh.

When we’re upset, it’s easy to give consequences that are not well thought out. In this situation the dad could have bought himself extra time to calm down and think by saying something like “That comment really upset me. Please go to your room and I’ll talk to you once I’ve had a chance to calm down.”

It’s important for parents to back each other up in their parenting decisions whenever possible. This is certainly easier when parents agree on their parenting approach. One way to come to some common agreements is to take a parenting class together.

You can take the Priceless Parenting online parenting class together – one fee covers you and your spouse or partner – and you can take it at your own pace and from your own place!

Male teens views on relationships and sex

If you have a teenage son, the recent survey on "What Guys Think About Sex, Love, Contraception and Relationships" has some interesting data for you. Last fall's survey of 1,200 males ages 15-22 reveals that they value relationships ahead of sex. The survey also reports "Nearly 8 out of 10 guys say there is way too much pressure on them to have sex—from society, from their friends, and from girls. More than half say they are relieved when a girl doesn’t want to have sex and 45% say they’ve had sex and regretted it afterwards."

When they do have sex, they don't always use contraception.  Of those surveyed, 57% admit they've had unprotected sex.  If you don't want to join the 2 million plus grandparents raising their grandchildren, this fact alone may motivate you to talk to your son about contraception!  The guys also say that their parents influence their decisions about sex. Review the survey's six tips for talking to your son and get the conversation started!

Kids swearing

When children swear, it certainly catches our attention! How should we respond when this happens? There are a number of ways to handle it depending on the situation.

Trying Out Swearing

Young children often try swearing at some point. One day our daughter was coming home from preschool when she dropped something while getting out of the car and exclaimed "F#@$!"

My husband calmly asked her if she knew what that word meant. She said she didn't know what it meant and he explained that it's best not to use words she didn't know the meaning of since they might offend other people. She accepted that explanation and didn't say the word again.

Swearing and Name Calling

One mom told the story of driving her 5-year-old son, Nick, home from preschool one day when he announced "John is an ass!"

(read the rest of the article at Priceless Parenting)

Bad attitude

Think for a minute about how you would feel if I said to you “You have a bad attitude and you need to change it!” What would you be feeling? What thoughts would be going through your mind about me?

Recently I attended a fun-filled Healthy Family Day event at our local YMCA. While there I overheard a conversation between a girl, who looked to be about 4-years-old, and her mom. The girls’ mom was scolding her saying “You need to change your attitude. Why are you in such a bad mood? Put a smile on your face. This is supposed to be fun for everyone.”

Being scolded certainly made her daughter quiet but it didn’t bring a smile to her face. When we’re upset it’s easy to say things to our children that actually make the situation worse rather than better.

Sibling rivalry

If you have more than one child, you have undoubtedly experienced sibling rivalry. How you respond to your children’s fights will affect the intensity and duration of those fights.

When kids can get you involved in their fights, the emotional stakes increase as each child would like you to take their side. If you do take a side, that child feels vindicated while the other child feels rejected. This will encourage more fighting in the future as the losing child aims to get even.

If you’re not afraid of your children really hurting each other, than the best approach is to let them work it out on their own. The less attention you give their fighting, the sooner it will end. If their fighting is bothering you, you can ask them to take it outside or to the garage – an uncomfortable location will shorten the fight!

Another approach is to remove yourself by doing something like going outside to work in the garden. By avoiding becoming involved in their fights, you also avoid adding fuel to the fire!

Teaching children to not listen

Children who don’t listen often have parents who have unintentionally taught them not to listen. How do parents teach their kids to not listen? Parents reinforce not listening whenever they ask their child to do something but then don’t immediately follow through when the child ignores the request.

For example, a mom and 8-year-old daughter were out for a walk. There was a grassy bank next to the sidewalk and the girl walked up on the hill. The mom told her “Don’t walk in the wet grass!” The girl continued walking along the hill for another minute or two before the mom continued “I asked you to get off the wet grass!” The girl still didn’t respond and so the mom, now irritated, began counting “That’s 1, that’s 2”, before she hit “3” the girl was back on the sidewalk.

This girl typically waits until her parents are angry before she pays attention to their requests. Can you see why she has learned she doesn’t have to listen the first time?

Too good to leave

Ben returned to live at home after completing his 4-year college degree. He promised his parents he would look for a job. When Ben didn’t seem to be making much progress in actually searching for a job, his mom set up an appointment for him with a job coach.

The job coach gave Ben a number of assignments to complete before the initial meeting. Ben came to the meeting but hadn’t completed any of the homework. Eventually he explained to the job coach that he really liked just living at home – his mom did the laundry, cooked delicious meals and he had plenty of time for video games and TV.

Setting limits with adult children isn’t easy but it is necessary. If you are struggling to set limits with your adult children, there are books on parenting adult children that you may find helpful.

Begging for candy

Sandy told me the story of her 4-year-old son begging for candy at the 7-11 store. She had picked him up from preschool and was making a quick stop at the store on the way home. He started begging her to buy a candy bar.

First he asked for a bag of M&M’s, and then he changed his mind and wanted a super-sized Hershey bar. Sandy explained that he could choose any of the small size candy bars but not the big ones. He began whining and insisting on getting a big candy bar. Finally in exasperation she gave in and said he could choose whatever candy bar he wanted.

She thought this would end the drama but instead he then totally melted down. She ended up carrying him out of the store kicking and screaming without any candy. From that incident, she realized that setting firm limits in a loving way was what he needed, not more candy.

For ideas on setting limits, watch the Setting Limits section from Lesson 1 of the Priceless Parenting online parenting class.

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