We all want our kids to feel happiness, to experience success, to be excited about life, right? However, if we truly want our children to be happy in the world, then they have to learn how to function within it.
Using strategies to keep our cherubs constantly content (or quiet) 100% of the time robs them of the ability to adjust, to cope, to self-soothe. These three skills are part of every content adult’s toolkit.
Here is the second of three solutions to a common dilemma. Although the mother refers to her two-year-old, make no mistake about it. If your tween or teen has not mastered this next skill, this article is for you! Again, if you can teach your child how to cope within your home, then you will be preparing her to cope outside of your home.
Query: “So, my daughter is 2 and we all know the terrible twos but I need help. She isn’t listening to me at all when her daddy is away at work, and I’m not sure what to do…. Please, some advice would be great!” (You can see the first solution here and the third solution here.)
Hearing “no” can be very disappointing for anyone. If you want your daughter to handle disappointment eloquently, it’s not automatic. You actually have to train her to change her habits and reactions.
Start by explaining what you are going to do at a time when you don’t have to do it. Take her on a walk where you can talk to each other while shoulder-to-shoulder, or sit together and paint your toenails. When you are actually faced with the situation, you’ll be able to remind her that you told her you were going to do this. She won’t be stunned by a sudden change is your process, but she still will react. Forewarned is forearmed.
Here’s the simple strategy for you to share with her ahead of time: Say to her, “Sometimes you get what you want, and sometimes you don’t get what you want. When you don’t get what you want, it may feel badly, but that’s okay. You’ll be all right again. Besides, you’ll get your way another time, so it all balances out.”
Then, in the following days, pick out several moments when she wants something easy, and say, “Sometimes you get what you want, and sometimes you don’t get what you want. This is one of those times when you’re getting what you want.”
You can plan for these moments— when she wants to wear mismatched socks, or wants more broccoli, or wants to move furniture to make a fort. You get the idea. Capitalize on things you were already willing to say “yes” to anyway.
Say it as many times as you can. Calm repetition is your friend, Mami.
You will be laying the groundwork for the next inevitable disappointing “no” for when— her little self wants an umbrella to try to fly like Mary Poppins, or her tween self wants to go to a party with high school kids, or her teenage self wants to go on a date before she turns 20 (okay, maybe not that one).
As each situation rears it’s ugly head, you’ll be ready. Calmly say to her, “Sometimes you get what you want, and sometimes you don’t get what you want. This is one of those times when you don’t get what you want. It may feel badly right now, but that’s okay. You’re a strong girl and you’ll be all right again. Besides, you’ll get your way another time.”
It may feel forced or awkward to you to repeat the same thing, but for her it will feel familiar- annoying, but familiar. If you are first employing this strategy with a tween or teen, your training must also undo her old habits and expectations. But, don’t worry. As long as you are consistent, the learning curve will be shorter.
If, on the other hand, you are not consistent, she will persistently argue, or explode, because you gave in the last time. This new approach may even evoke a tantrum or two, but I have a solution for that, too.
Check back for the third solution in my next post. If you don’t want to wait, pick up a copy of How To Keep Your Daughter From Slamming the Door here.
I’m always looking for more content to share with you. What would you like to see me to address in my next book? Let me know at info@DeborahAnnDavis.com.
More soon. Wishing you health and happiness,
Parenting Skills Coach
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