Parenting – Counter Intuitive

April 27, 2014

I find that the most successful parenting skills are counter intuitive. Like all toddlers my son can be very obstinate and insist on doing what he wants to do when he wants to do it. I try to give him some freedom on when he does things and how but sometimes we just don’t have time for him to dress-up as a superhero before we do the school run.

I’ve found that the more i give out to him the more obstinate he gets and the longer it last. For instance if we go toe-to-toe on something in the morning he can be oppositional all day, refusing to do the smallest thing in protest. So i resorted back to distraction or game playing (e.g. making tidying-up into a race) to deal with confrontations, which help to diffuse the argument and allow us to get where we need to be on time.

I used to use the techniques all the time when he was smaller but dropped when i thought he was getting old enough to reason with. I think kids can take a set back developmentally when they’re sick or stressed so it’s worth taking a step back with them until they’re ready to be ‘big’ kids again. Although it takes a gear change, I find switching down a gear with my son when he’s like this is much more successful than getting into arguments with him, which just seem to make him an angry and sad little boy and will do nothing for his self-esteem.

In a similar vein, in the book ‘Working with Emotional Intelligence’ the author references how offices in the navy were instructed to treat poorly-performing sailors as if they were high-achievers, letting them know that they knew they could do what was being asked for them to a high-stand. The result? The so called ‘poorly-achieving’ sailors excelled and reported a much higher satisfaction rating then when the management technique had been lambasted for their poor work. Maybe this is what’s going on for toddlers. Maybe by putting a positive spin on instructions we’re building their self esteem and helping them be proud of their achievements.



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