“Since you’ve been nice, I’ll give you a cupcake,” Azita says in a sing songy voice and gives me a kiss.
Cute, but I think it underscores a parenting issue that I am beginning to feel strongly about as the kids get older.
It works at first, the whole reward and punishment type thing. Especially since when kids are around two they start to understand cause and effect.
“If you want a lollipop, eat your vegetables.”
“If you to go to the park, get in your carseat now.”
“If you want me to read you a story, brush your teeth like I asked.”
“When we get home you are going to nap since you aren’t listening.”
Most of the statements seem innocent enough by themself, but when used as the only parenting tool you’ve got, and sometimes when your kids are really trying your patience it feels like it, it backfires.
It worksin the short term, but in the long term, what has it taught Azita? That since I’ve been nice, she’ll give me a cupcake. That you act a certain way to get what you want, not necessarily because it is the right thing to do, or because you’ve learned how to compromise or work with others.
What ramifications might this have for your kids in high school or later in life if this is the only disciplinary tool you use? I’m really trying to rely less and less on this type of stuff.
So many people will tell you that your kids are just trying to manipulate you by needing you and needing things done by you, whether its crying when you leave the room, try to make them sleep on their own, or throwing a tantrum before age 3 when they really just haven’t learned to handle their emotions or adapt to change yet.
But who is actually manipulating here? Or, who are they learning it from?
It’s a tough one because in general there are times that I am trying to teach Azita cause and effect, but to her it feels the same as “do what I want and you get what you want.” Sometimes, she really does have to get in her carseat now if she wants to go to the park, not because I am trying to bribe the good behavior/listening to me out of her, but because its getting late and she needs to learn that if she waits and waits and waits to get ready, time moves on and we have other things to do.
So I’m not at all suggesting you don’t discipline them and teach them right from wrong and to work with others. I think all of us basically have the goal of wanting our kids to grow up to be people we want to be around, and you don’t get that without some serious guidance and love and caring that they learn how to interact ina family and understand when and why you are wanting a behavior from them.
I’ve learned to try to stay calm instead of getting angry when Azita doesn’t want to do what I want or need her to do.
After three times of asking her to get on her shoes so we can get to the store, and she still won’t, I try to say something like, “Azita, I’m sorry you don’t want to go to the store but we have to. I’m not going to get mad or yell, I’m just going to have to pick you up and put you in the carseat and pick out whichever shoes I find. I’m sorry if this makes you upset. It’s time to go.”
Often she will decide to just get up, and sometimes she will scream and cry while I put her in the carseat against her sweet little will. But she always gets over it, and think I gain a lot more in the long term by showing her that I’ve stayed calm and clearly stated what I want and why, rather than bribing her with a treat.