Let’s examine if her ‘Threat as a solution’ worked in the way Rachel thought it did.
If you were to ask one of her sons why he stopped fighting over the Xbox, this is the response you’d get:
“Well, there’s no point! My brother just wins anyway, no one understands or cares what I want! I might as well shut up or I’ll just be sent to my room. Even if my mum tries and talks about it later, she just doesn’t get it, so I don’t listen to her anymore.”
So, by ‘work’, I guess the threat works by stopping the fighting in the moment.
But as a parent that’s exhausting. The expression “Groundhog Day” comes to mind. We’re dealing with the same situation over and over again as we fail to teach our children the skills that they need to improve and control their own behaviour.
So, first, let’s break down WHY the boys fight over the Xbox.
What skills do they need to manage their own behaviour and stop fighting in the moment and for years to come?
- Impulse control– the ability to wait their turn and not react in the moment
- Self-regulation– to be able to handle emotions like frustrations and anger
- Planning– learn how to work together to find a solution that works for everyone
- Negotiation and communication skills
As parents, we need to support our children to develop these skills over time.
The benefit of teaching these skills is that children will better learn to handle their own behaviour so you don’t have to, and they will have these useful skills for life.
These are the skills that they will need to succeed in life, future relationships with friends, spouses and jobs.
To teach our children these skills, there is a missing step that we often overlook.
Unless a child first feels understood and validated, you will always have a hard time coaching them to better behaviour. They’re too caught up with feeling misunderstood and defensive to move on to find solutions.
That’s why punishments, threats or even rewards backfire.
Imagine your boss giving you a stern telling off in front of others, sending you to sit in another room and not allowing you to join the team meeting. I bet you’ll be too busy fuming and plotting your revenge or retaliation to clearly think of solutions of how to better handle the situation next time. – Our children are no different.
“Boundaries have become synonymous with control, managing children’s behaviour, punishment, and getting kids to do things they don’t want to do. Coaching is the opposite. We use boundaries to bring out children’s strengths and to help them get what they want in ways that work for us, so they can learn to manage themselves. Boundaries are truly opportunities for growth.” Sandy Blackard. Language of Listening®
Here’s the difference:
You have a rule or boundary and punish the child if boundaries are broken. You control your child’s behaviour with rewards, threats or punishments.
Language of Listening®
You have the same rule or boundary and you support and coach your child to meet your rules and boundary. You support them to control their own behaviour.