In today’s day and age, where everyone is on the go and over-scheduled, following-through with commitments can be a tall order. As a parent, however, your ability to follow-through must be Priority #1 if you want your child to respect and trust you.
From a simple request such as, “Mom, can we get Jamba Juice after school?” to a complex one like, “Mom, can we go to Italy for my birthday?”, your answer should always be truthful and intentional. Why am I harping on this need to stay committed?
1. Sometimes parents have a tough time saying no to the their child because they really do want to give them everything they can and more. I get it! It’s hard to look into those cute, little faces and hear their puppy dog whimper while explaining that what they want to do is just not gonna happen right now. (My little students use this tactic on me all the time. Sorry kids, but you still gotta do your homework; I’ll help you write the first paragraph though 🙂 ) By promising something that’s unrealistic, however, you’re giving your cute, little mini-you unrealistic expectations and creating unnecessary roller-coaster emotions. Little ones have not yet learned the highly developed reasoning skills of processing information in context and understanding the concept of time. Little kids are literal creatures and will take you at your word. So when you promise something, you better deliver. For example, if you promise that the family is going for ice cream after dinner with the condition that little Harper eats all of her broccoli, Harper is going to attempt to rise to your level of expectation and swallow all of those little trees. If Harper holds up her end of the bargain and you fail to do the same, Harper loses some trust in your word. If this happens frequently, she begins to doubt the value of your commitments in general.
2. By following-through with things promised, you are teaching your child to do the same. The value of your word– saying what you’re going to do and then actually doing it– is far more worthy than fancy trips or expensive toys. Children really don’t care about how much they have or don’t have– what they really want to earn is your approval. So make sure your word is a valued asset.
3. Same goes for a consequence. If Harper doesn’t eat her broccoli, there will be no ice cream for dessert no matter how much she whines or breaks down in tears. Stick to your commitment. By doing so, you are teaching Harper that you mean business and your word is truth. She’ll respect you and honor your approach once she realizes you have no intention of caving. And if you learn not to cave over the little things, you’ll be ready to make sure not to cave over the big things. That’s when it really matters.
Your child wants to trust and respect you and their actions often act-out their desire for these boundaries. So help your child learn to trust and respect you by simply sticking to your word. It’s the best gift you can give them.
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Christine Terry, J.D., is the Founder & Owner of Terry Tutors, a Private Tutoring, Family Coaching, and Education Advocacy service dedicated to supporting the whole student. She writes this blog as an effort to help Moms & Dads Navigate Generation Z, Honestly. Want to Know More? Head on over to TerryTutors.com