Ever known someone who will try every trick in their books to get their demands met. Imagine living with one. Yes I am talking about our persevering (read pestering) kids who will not stop at anything to get what they want. And many a times we give in to their antics thus reinforcing the very behaviour we don’t want to face again.
Universal dilemma: Should we fulfill the demand or not is the universal dilemma faced by all parents everywhere. Many of my clients have come to me saying they feel powerless in the face of such tantrums and often give in to their child’s demand. I have a simple process which I and my clients have applied successfully. It is being shared here today for benefit of all parents dealing with such issues. If you still want more clarification please write in feedback.
Why the demand? : Listen to their demand, to what they are expressing. Stop what you are doing for a moment and give them your full attention. Don’t just mumble without any attention ” Haan Haan theek hai, Dekhte hai etc”. If you think it will take long to discuss especially with older children fix a time when you will be available. Understanding your child’s perspective is vital. Sit and discuss with your child in a calm way. Avoid making false promises just to get your child off your back in the moment. It undermines your value as a parent and affects the parent-child bond adversely.
Need or Desire: Help kids figure is it truly needed or is it just to feel accepted in the peer group or it is just because other person has it. Let them list alternatives and the cost of fulfilling the demand not only monetary but number of working hours or cutting down on other expenses. Be calm and composed while having the discussion. Try to gear them towards thinking for themselves and getting out of the mad race of having what others have without thinking. Mind you parents, your day to day behaviour towards your own wants and needs is very crucial here.
Demand genuine or unreasonable: How to decide whether demands are genuine or unreasonable. Though it will differ from household to household and each parent will have to define and decide their own boundaries but a few simple questions that can help the process are whether it is genuinely needed? Whether it will add to the growth of the child? Will the child be lacking or feel inferior if it’s not provided? Do you have the means to provide it? Whether you will be stressing yourself out in providing it and then putting it on children see how much sacrifices we have made for you? Has the demand spurred cause others have it? To buy a new dress when 20 good ones are already lined up in the cupboard, is it warranted? Are you happy in giving it? Is it that you want to give to cover your own guilt as parent or to overcompensate for the time not given? If availability of finances is your only criterion for saying yes or no then maybe you need a rethink. for saying no. Older kids can be involved in the discussion. To younger kids convey your thoughts in simple and calm fashion, length of explanation depending on the age of the child.
Coupling Demands with Conditions: Many a times we parents attach a condition for example scoring straight A’s or for younger kids not hitting anyone in lieu of fulfilling a child’s demand especially if unreasonable. Sometimes we also do it as an easy way to get the children off our backs. But is it healthy? Attaching a condition doesn’t turn an unreasonable demand into genuine. But that’s the message your child will get. It just means you weren’t strong enough in yourself and thus gave in to your kid or your kid was able to convince you otherwise. Where the demand is genuine attaching a condition to its fulfillment just delays the process unnecessarily and weakens the parent-child bond. Thus either ways it’s not a good practice. Though it would be good to reward the child for desirable behaviours. Read more on this in Right way of using rewards.
In-genuine Demand: When you have to refuse look into the child’s eyes with love and affection and say the reason why the particular demand cannot be fulfilled. Keep the explanation simple and let them soak the information. It might take a while for them to accept it especially if they are used to listening yes. Maintain your calm, keep being compassionate and radiating positive vibrations. Don’t make the mistake of getting into an argument especially when the emotions are at fray. You could direct the child(younger ones) into playing something together or just leave them for a while. If they are sulking let them be. Don’t bend over backwards to pacify them. Do let them know verbally that you love them and are there for them. Do not and I repeat do not generalize the discontent felt here to other areas and start chastising the child or harping unnecessarily “you have it too easy”.
Genuine Demand: If the demand seems genuine, next question is can it be fulfilled? If you can fulfill it immediately do so. Do not delay unnecessarily. It strengthens the parent- child bond and makes the child feel cared and loved. But it’s not necessary that we always have the means to fulfill all demands even if genuine. This is where we feel the hurt most when a genuine demand of child cannot be met by us. And that hurt is often expressed as irritation over trivial matters. Our shortcomings often projected onto our children. We will have to understand the irritation is because of our own inability to provide and overcome it. What should be done if the demand cannot be met straight away?
Time frame for fulfilling: If you do not have the means to fulfill it convey so to the kid calmly. Set a reasonable time frame when it can be fulfilled. Try your best to keep your word. If you have the financial means but are unable to go to the market due to your busy routine convey the same to your kid especially younger ones. You could say something like “As soon as mumma finds time to go to the market which is in a day or two you will get your toy”. Then stick to your word, don’t keep postponing it because what looks trivial to you might be of mighty importance to your child and postponing it is only going to undermine your authority and parent-child relationship. If you do not keep your promises often children will learn not to respect your words.
Financial Dilemma: If the demand is genuine but cannot be met because of financial constraints convey it to your child with love and kindness that your demand is genuine but cannot be fulfilled immediately because of financial situation. Don’t try to hide the fact unless they are too small. Offer sitting through the budget and seeing what cuts can be made by everyone. Advice saving in a piggy bank marked for that purpose where the change could be put. Ask your child what are they ready to give up ( like cutting down on eating out with friends/ on that new dress) in order to save money for their demand.
Conclusion: Listen attentively. Always let them know their well-being is of utmost importance.Involve them into discussion but avoid arguments. Whatever the decision keep the channel open for communication. Keep your promises. Make time to address their feelings and emotions. Above all be honest not only to them but to yourselves too.