Just Cause!

   Written by on March 30, 2017 at 9:57 am
Cheryl Gowin and Dennis Gowin.  Call us at our counseling practice with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions at 434-808-2637.

Cheryl Gowin and Dennis Gowin.  Call us at our counseling practice with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions at 434-808-2637.

As a kid, what did you vow you would never say to your kids?  Just wait until Daddy gets home.  Because I said so.  One more time and I going to stop this car.  It’s my house that is why.   

Dr. Robert Huff and Elizabeth Cappelletti, LMFT, in their book Raising Healthy Children and Teenagers, talk about conditioning.  Conditioning is what happens when we are exposed to actions repeatedly than we react based on this exposure.  We know that the way we talk with our kids is very important.  Nevertheless, at times, especially when we are stressed, overwhelmed, angry, or exhausted, the right words just don’t seem to come out of our mouths.  Why?  Remember we were conditioned by the words we heard growing up.  These words tend to move to the surface when we are tired, frustrated, or angry and what our kids say “pushes our buttons.”

Kids are persistent negotiators.  They will use as many ways as they can come up with to negotiate to get what they want.  So, let’s look at a few phrases our kids use that can push our buttons and how to respond.

“You don’t love me”; or, the mirror comment, “I don’t love you…”

Both are hard to hear.  First, take a deep breath and remember this represents frustration not the truth.  Try not to argue but ask for more information.  Depending on your child’s age, you can reassure him/her either that you will always love them or talk about why he/she feels that way.

“It’s just not fair …”

For kids, it is not fair is a standard response.  They don’t understand why you said it was time to go to bed.  Why does he have to put away the dishes when it is not his night?  It is not fair she has to clean up the mess, she didn’t make it.  It is not fair that he has to put away the game boy and mow the lawn.  There is no equity in having to stop watching TV and help put away the groceries.  Yes, these and many more are the reasons that your child may whine about the gross injustices of life.

What is your first reaction?  Do you attempt to explain your reasoning?  How has that worked?  Probably, not that well.  As an alternative, acknowledge his/her disappointment but don’t acknowledge the complaint.  Try this response.  I know you are upset and don’t think this is fair.  Remember what Mick Jagger said, “We can’t always get what we want but we all get what we need.”  You can also remind them that Mick Jagger’s quote points to the Bible.  The Bible tells about how the Israelites wanted the same food they ate in Egypt and God gave them Manna.  They got what they needed.

“Everyone gets to …”

Kids don’t want to be different from their friends.  They want to be part of the “group.”  Your response should be understanding and compassionate.  Here are some examples.  Yes, your friend Tom does have a nice paint gun, but that is not something Dad and I want you to have.  We love you and there too many reports about hover boards not being safe for us to feel comfortable to give you one.  Yes, Janie’s Mom did let her get a tattoo.  Tattoos are permanent, I love you and don’t want you to do something you will regret later in life.  It would be better for you to be older before you make an irreversible decision.      

Remember kids’ motivation is to get what they want and they are relentless in pushing and asking.  Your role as a parent is to give them what they need which includes a healthy self-image.  You may need to take time to respond.  There are times that all kids sulk; that’s ok.  Keep calm; support them by acknowledging their dislike of the situation.  Again, the older the child the more you can discuss the situation when them.  Stay positive, tell them you love them, but don’t give in.

Clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you.  Colossians 3:12

About Cheryl & Dennis Gowin

Cheryl Gowin, Counselor and Dennis Gowin, Director of Discovery Counseling Center. Contact us with your feedback, comments, issues or questions at 434-808-2426 or dgowin@discoverycounseling.org.

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