Thursday, January 26, 2012

My Way or the Highway

I'm going to be doing a presentation tonight on cooperation! I know from past experience with parenting groups that what they really want to know is how do I get my kids to obey me?

"My way or the highway" works for awhile when they're little but soon looses it's power as they get older. It also seems desirable when they're small because they do what you want and they learn to please you when doing it, but it doesn't do them any good as they become older and they encounter others in their lives who aren't as "safe".  That need to please and be accepted by other people may also become important when it's their peers who want them to try drugs or participate in other unsavory activities. That need to please and be obedient may not be so desirable if they encounter someone in authority who may take advantage of their role as an authority figure.

It may sound crazy but we need to appeal to their logical side. They need to understand the importance of what they're doing and how it helps when they cooperate. They also need to understand how to say no to you and negotiate. Now I'm not advocating snotty, sarcastic remarks from children and teens, I'm talking about learning how to talk respectfully to someone when they don't agree and how to negotiate for their needs assertively.

And they're going to learn that from you. How do you act when you are in a confrontation? How do you act when the person you are confronting is out of control? The hardest thing parents hear from me is to draw your boundaries, walk away, let consequences occur, and let your teen have the last word. They think I'm nuts...but I'm asking you what you want your teen to learn. How to scream louder or how to behave in a responsible way when someone else is out of control? Besides, when you leave a conversation in that way, you always have the ability to go back later and try again.

Think about what you want them to learn at that moment. Don't always get involved with their issues.  Let them solve their own problems by asking, "What can you do in this situation?". Let them fail sometime; it builds character.  Teach them how to get up, brush themselves off, and try again. Encourage, encourage, encourage them to try again. And last, but not least, notice progress and improvement; that's how you get cooperation!

If you are interested in more information on parenting issues, CARE of Southeastern Michigan offers parenting classes throughout the year in various locations throughout Macomb County. You can view upcoming classes, get more information, and register online at or call CARE at 586-541-0033.  I also co-host a parenting chat at with the Health and Lifestyles Writer, Maryanne Kocis-MacLeod, on the first and third Wednesdays of each month from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm.

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