Take off from my last entry, we left Junior in Aisle 9 putting on a show for anyone who would watch. His parents, understandably, were unimpressed. I presented three responses that a typical parent may take. Let’s examine them further.
The parent who buys the cookies is often making that decision because they can’t think of anything that will get that kid to be quiet faster. They probably find the fits the most distressing. Maybe as kids they felt ignored, and so they want to give. There could be many reasons why the find these types of interactions distressing, but the root is the anxiety the parent is feeling and finding an immediate way to manage that. This is teaching the child to soothe above all else, and to find any way possible to seek comfort.
The parent who pushes on can probably tolerate discomfort and really values self-discipline. They might be the type of person who is able to keep their emotions out of the interaction. They probably don’t care if people give them dirty looks – they are there to grocery shop, and they are going to get that done, no matter what! This response is teaching that we need to get done what we planned to do.
That third parent sees that winning the power struggle is more important than finishing that grocery list. They are parenting from an idea that ‘You can’t play that game with me and expect to win’. They are teaching their children self-control and self-discipline, and that there are other more effective methods to get their needs met.
Which one are you? Which one do you want to be?