There are three different roles that parents can take with their children. They can be a director, a collaborator, or a supporter. The role they take depends on who is trying to fill their need or request. When parents want their children to do something that their children don’t want to do, then, the parent becomes a director. When you are a director, you use different language than when your role is a collaborator or supporter.
When you have to take on the director role, it’s because you want your children to become responsible and capable adults. You are teaching important life skills, such as, cleaning, using respectful language, making commitments and sticking to them, learning how to get along with others, and following rules set by authority figures. Since you are a director because they basically don’t see your need as their need, you do not need to get their agreement.
Here’s examples of a parent trying to give a directive and then tacking on “OK” to gain agreement that they hope will reduce resistance. This two letter word turns a directive into a request and weakens your authority.
It’s time to turn off the T.V. OK?
You need to put your toys away. OK?
After you eat your dinner, you can have dessert. OK?
A directive needs to be given without fear that it won’t be done. Have total confidence that it will be done. You will be amazed at the difference leaving off “OK” will make in how your child responds to you.
It’s time to turn off the T.V.
You need to put your toys away.
After you eat your dinner, you can have dessert.
Do not ask for approval or acceptance. Do not yell or sound irritated that you have to give a directive. If they don’t see your request as important in their life, then your job is to calmly, respectfully, and firmly state the expectation and directive.
If they are not used to your direct approach, you may need to say it two or three times at first. That’s OK. You can do it. Remain calm. Do not say, “How many times do I have to tell you?” If you are repeating yourself numerous times with every request, then you are stating the directive incorrectly. Check to make sure you are not asking for their approval and permission. You will be asking for their input and approval when your role is as a collaborator or a supporter.
©2014 Cynthia Klein, Bridges 2 Understanding, has been a Certified Parent Educator since 1994. She works with parents and organizations who want more cooperation, mutual respect and understanding between adults and children of all ages. Cynthia presents her expertise through speaking and private parenting coaching sessions. She is a member of the National Speakers Association and writes the Middle School Mom column for the Parenting on the Peninsula magazine. She works with parents of 4 – 25 year-old children. Contact Cynthia at bridges2understa.wpstagecoach.com, cynthia@bridges2understanding,com, or 650. 679.8138 to learn more about creating the relationship you want with your children.