The Path Of Least Resistance
10th August 2016
Now that I have children I can understand why parents have been telling me; “It’s just easier this way.” For years, almost apologetically, I have been listening to parents admit to caving in to their child’s requests (demands) for any number of things; foods, bedtimes, pocket money, homework conditions, toys, sleepovers, TV shows etc. Kids deal in a currency that parents can find difficult to negotiate with.
Children also have that wonderful ability to hold their parents and at times, their family, in a hostage situation. In public places such as supermarkets, cafes, churches, shopping centres, parks and beaches children will occasionally “turn it on” for the public audience. In desperate attempts to keep the peace and to save face, parents will often hurriedly give in to the child’s demands usually following it with the statement – “It’s just easier this way.”
The thing is, kids don’t always get their own way and they shouldn’t expect to. At school, they are most definitely required to fulfil certain basic learning requirements and abide by a given behaviour code. I understand that children tend to “play up” for their parents and that teachers hold a certain mesmerising power that brings out the best in their students.
But I also know that children need to be directed, in no uncertain terms, about the behaviour and expectations we have for them. If you lower those standards, particularly in a “hostage situation” and give in, kids learn that the standards can change – they’ll get their way if they create a scene or whinge or cry or sulk.
So what do you do? Don’t give in. Stick to your guns and follow through. Sure – there’ll probably be tantrums, tears, wailing and gnashing of teeth (by both you and the the child!). But you’ll only have to follow through with it a few times before your child realises that you’re for real. Don’t be afraid to say no, to leave an event early, to implement the punishment you’ve threatened – that’s how you’re demonstrating to your child that you mean what you say.
So the next time you find yourself sighing, giving in to your child’s demands and thinking – it’s just easier this way, think again. Is it easier this way or is it just easier until next time? You’re the adult, you make the choices and sometimes that choice needs to be the difficult one, not always the path of least resistance.