A common source of irritation for parents is the repeated “Why?” they get from their kids after they have set a limit. The purpose of this badgering is to get their parents to change their minds.
As soon as you do change your decision due to getting worn down, then they are rewarded for their negative behavior. It’s a downward spiral from here with kids learning that limits are to be pushed against and to be ignored.
I recently heard of a teenage boy who not only asked his parents “Why?” constantly, but now says it to other adults as well. This constant questioning will create big problems as an adult when this continues in the work place.
Here is a great way to avoid this trap.
First realize that once you have told your kids your reasoning behind the limit, then don’t repeat it again. Instead, make a list of their questions and your responses and post it in the house. When asked “Why?” simply point to the list. You are not being rude by not repeating your answer. You are showing how to set respectful boundaries.
Here is a list of responses to “Why?” that clients of mine have started and they will add to as needed.
Why can’t I use media in the morning?
Answer: Using media in the morning causes us to get off track; when we’re off track we are late for school. No media in the morning means we have more quality time as a family.
Why can’t we have El Super Burrito/Pizza/Gau Puong for dinner?
Answer: We are having dinner at home tonight. Eating out every night is not in the budget. Celebrating birthdays, awards and special occasions is a good time to go out for dinner.
Why can’t I go to Hillsdale and hang out with my friends?
Answer: Hillsdale is too far away and is not conducive to teens “hanging” out on skateboards; Burlingame Ave is fine for this.
Why do I have to go to bed now?
Answer: Growing kids need rest and at least 9-10 hours of sleep; we have to leave early in the morning. A good night’s sleep helps start the day off right.
These are all non-negotiable rules for now. If you know of a time when it will be open to discussion, then post this as well. For example, in addition to the reason why the child can’t go to Hillsdale Shopping Center now, add that it will be discussed again when the child is 16.
Here are additional articles that will teach you effective limit setting.
How to Give Kids Directions that Are Followed
Give Non-Negotiable Rules to Teens to Reduce Arguing
©2016 Cynthia Klein, Bridges 2 Understanding, has been a Family Success Coach since 1994. She works with parents and organizations who want more cooperation, mutual respect and understanding between adults and children. Cynthia presents her expertise through speaking and private parenting coaching sessions. She writes the Middle School Mom column for the Parenting on the Peninsula magazine. She works with parents of 4 – 25 year-old children.
To learn how Cynthia can help you solve your specific challenges, contact Cynthia at bridges2understa.wpstagecoach.com, , or 650. 679.8138 to have a complementary 45-minute discovery session. Why keep suffering? It’s time to change!