Positive Parenting: Say this, not that

Written by Kristin Tallackson, M.A.

 Whether we are parenting, teaching, or nannying, frustrations get the best of us. We find ourselves frustrated with crying children who do not comply with what we say. Out of frustrations come demands such as:

Stop Crying!

 I’m not going to tell you again…

 Don’t come back here until your attitude has changed!

 As much as we want these demands to work, they don’t. In the end, we are more frustrated and upset that we do not have gentle parenting tactics that work. Research shows that consistently using positive parenting techniques provide children with the tools they need to behave. I’m sure at this point you are wondering what these “magical” techniques are. Today we learn about enforceable limits and examples of when to use them. This technique comes from a book I highly recommend, Parenting with Love and Logic.

What is an enforceable limit?

Enforceable limits allow choices. Love and Logic defines it as, “instead of always telling your child what to do, try telling them what you will do instead.” Here are some examples of enforceable limits:

I’ll give you a new toy as soon as you put your books away

 I will take you to see your friend when you ask nicely and wait calmly

The most important aspect to remember when using enforceable limits is to remain calm. If you feel yourself feeling frustrated with a crying/whining child, remember to stop and take a breath before you respond. It’s important to speak in a normal tone. When we raise our voices, it makes things worse. Instead of hearing what you are saying, children are focused on your anger.

Why do enforceable limits work?

When you create enforceable limits, it gives your child structure and choices. When you say, “I will serve you dessert when you are sitting quietly at the table,” you are providing what you would like to see your child do while giving them a choice.

SAY: I’ll listen to you as soon as your voice is as calm and quiet as mine

DON’T: Don’t talk to me like that! You better be respectful!

SAY: I’ll serve you lunch when you are sitting quietly in your chair.

DON’T: Stop whining! You better be quiet if you want lunch.

SAY: I give snacks to children who share their toys.

DON’T: You will not get anything if you keep taking his toys!

SAY: You look upset, do you need a hug?

DON’T: Stop crying right now!

SAY: It looks like you are struggling in math. Is there anything I can do to help?

DON’T: Another C? What’s going on with you?

Written by: Kristin Tallackson, M.A.

Kristin is a counselor at Heights Family Counseling and is licensed in two states. Kristin's counseling approach is to offer a safe place for you to process and work through a multitude of circumstances, while offering valuable insight and perspective into whatever journey you may find yourself. Her philosophy is to embrace you where you are, equip you with tools, coping mechanisms and knowledge, and empower you to take those tools and lead a fulfilling life. Read more about Kristin at https://heightsfamilycounseling.com/amy-rollo/