Dr. Phelan: Much too often, I feel that nothing I do or say to my children is making the slightest bit of difference. It’s like I’m invisible in my own home. Any thoughts?
If you’re a parent living with small children, you may often feel like you’re invisible to your kids. After spending a day cajoling, reasoning, threatening and even screaming in an attempt to get your kids to behave, you may feel as if they never listen to you, much less respond.
But all that talking is precisely the problem. If you feel like you’re invisible, you’re probably way to audible. When it comes to discipline, silence often speaks louder than words.
One Problem: An “Extra” Goal
Many parents complicate the job of discipline by setting for themselves two goals instead of just one. Their first goal is to get the kids to do what they’re supposed to do, which is fine. But when kids don’t respond right away, many parents add a second goal: getting the youngsters to accept, agree with, or even like the discipline. So Mom and Dad start reasoning, lecturing and explaining.
One Explanation Should Suffice
All this extra talking accomplishes only two things, and both of them are bad. First, it aggravates the kids, and second, it says to the children that they really don’t have to behave unless you can give them four or five reasons why they should.
One explanation is fine. But the mistake many parents make is trying to reason with their kids as if they were “little adults,” and too often adult logic does not impress or motivate young children. Once you say “No” to obnoxious behavior, you should save your breath. Further pleading will irritate you more and give the child a chance to continue the battle … and the behavior.###
Dr. Tom Phelan is an internationally recognized child and adolescent psychologist. He is the author of the aclaimed bestseller, 1-2-3 Magic! His website is www.parentmagic.com.