A Parenting Tip From John Gray, Ph.D., author of “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus

What to say to a child when she resists your wishes.

Parents make a mistake when they justify their commands with explanations.  If the child asks in a non-argumentative tone, it is fine to explain why you want something done; but if she asks in a challenging way, let her know you will be happy to talk about it later.

If there is not much time just to say, “We can talk about it later, but right now I want you to….” When you are on an equal level with someone who is reasonable, reasons work.  However, children do not develop the capacity to reason until about the age of nine.

Once you begin commanding, avoid stating the rules or giving reasons to back you up.  Once a parent begins to repeat a command, the time for negotiating is over.

When you state a command, the only reason children should cooperate with your request is because you want them to.

Gray gives this example.  “I was teaching a workshop for children from broken families.  Many of the children were unruly and uncooperative, which was the reason why they were in the workshop.  At a certain point, the oldest child in the group who was about 14, became very resistant to my requests.

I proceeded to send him into the next room for a time out.
He resisted and said, “What are you going to do about it?”

Since he was already being punished to the maximum in his life, another punishment meant nothing to him.

He had stopped caring and was defiant.  He was also much bigger than I was.  I really didn’t know what else to do, so I just looked him in the eyes and continued to command him in a clear, firm voice saying, ‘I want you to take a time out for about 15 minutes.’ Our conversation went on as follows:

Teenager: And what if I don’t?

Me: I want you to go in the next room and take a time out for 15 minutes.

Teenager: You can’t make me.

Me: I want you to go in the next room and take a time out for 15 minutes.

Teenager: You are a wimp; you can’t make me.

Me: I want you to go in the next room and take a time out for 15 minutes

Teenager: What are you going to do if I don’t?  (Editor:  Notice what Gray did next.  He did not try to answer the boy’s question.  That would have been a mistake.  Gray just repeated the command.)

Me: I want you to go in the next room and take a time out for 15 minutes.

He made an expression of disgust and walked away into the other room.

After about 15 minutes I went into the other room and, in a friendly manner, said, “If you want to join us, you are welcome, but if you need some more time alone, I will certainly understand.”

He silently nodded his head as if he would think about. I left the room in a friendly way, and in a few minutes later he came out and joined the group.”

Adapted and excerpted from John Gray, Ph.D., “Children are from Heaven”.

Gene Griessman is an internationally known keynote speaker, actor, and communication strategist. His book “TheWords Lincoln Lived By” is in its 23rd printing and “Time Tactics of Very Successful People” is in its 43rd printing. His training video “Lincoln on Communication” is owned by thousands of corporations, libraries, and government organizations. He has spoken at conventions and annual meetings all over the world. To learn more about his presentations, call 404-435-2225. Learn more at Atlanta Speakers Bureau or at his website. His latest book “Lincoln and Obama” has just been released by Audible.
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