Many of you have negotiators in your home. It’s a constant struggle. And it’s exhausting. Others have kids who argue with you constantly, and again, it’s an exhausting struggle. Some of you have complainers, and it frustrates you.
But there is very rapid relief for you, if you can begin to see that the issue is not with your children…but with how YOU respond to your children. Of course, children are influenced in many ways, but their behavior around Mom and Dad is primarily shaped by one thing. And it’s not their friends. It’s not the teacher. It’s not the other parent, if divorced.
It’s you. How you respond determines if a pattern unfolds into a misery making habit, or it fades away. But let’s be clear: certainly, moments or unwanted words or behavior will appear. This may not be your doing. However, the growth of a moment into a pattern of unwanted behavior is typically based upon the pattern of parenting. Here’s the bottom line to consider:
- Children ONLY Negotiate with Parents Who Negotiate
- Children ONLY Argue with Parents Who Argue
- Children Only Complain with Parents Who Complain Back
Over and over, it is our interest in the unwanted moments that sustain those moments. If you can fully grasp that, and then manage your behavior accordingly, your life will be free of the whining, arguing and negotiating.
However, the two critical steps mentioned above are worthy of systematizing. In other words, take this casually and you will likely fail. Take it seriously and create your own system for handling these issues and you will succeed. Here is my suggestion for such a system.
The Simple System to End Negotiating, Arguing and Whining
1. Proclaim Your Mistake and Be Humble
Here is where you let your kids giggle and point fingers at you. You eat a little humble pie and acknowledge your mistake. Explain that you have argued, whined and negotiated with them…when you shouldn’t have. And apologize for this. They will find it funny, and perhaps your teen will tell you how much they knew you were wrong.
2. Proclaim Your Future Disinterest
The next part will not be so funny for your kids. Now you explain your disinterest in their future negotiating, arguing and whining. Let them know that your decisions will not change, but that you simply will not argue or try to convince them. Likewise, they are free to complain but you will not respond in any way or try to convince them to do otherwise.
You will simply be disinterested. Completely and totally disinterested.
3. When It Gets Ugly…Walk Away.
You can bet it will likely get ugly once the rubber meets the road. In other words, when you implement this fully, you will be ignoring and walking away from something THEY WANT. And you can bet they will get upset. So, you must be prepared for this, and ready to walk away without trying to change or adjust or fix their upset.
4. Let Them Have Their Moment
As you walk away, the key is to allow them to have their moment. Don’t get into it with them. Don’t try to teach them or talk them through it help them understand it rationally. If they escalate, allow this moment to come…and go. Eventually, it always goes. Please remember this.
5. Resolve: Stick to This for Twenty Years
If you see that this works, and it will, stay resolved to this plan throughout their childhood. Don’t get soft.
You Can Do It.
This simple system requires that you are firmly resolved to stay out of the arguments, the negotiations, and the (often) endless whining and complaints about homework, teachers, coaches and siblings.
I know… it’s hard to ignore these things! Many kids are experts at finding ways to create an argument or to negotiate over every little item. The battles seem endless, as do their efforts to try to bargain their way out of every bit of homework or having to clean up their room. They will do everything they can to pull you back into their battle or struggle.
But if you can see that a happier home exists for everyone, if you can do this, then you will hold the course. It’s a new school year, and the perfect time to start this now. Buckle down…and do it!