The more I give my children the reasons behind my decisions, the more they argue and ask “Why?” about everything. Should I continue explaining my reasoning down to the last detail?
Why? Give me one good reason why you should.
Kidding! Kids are true child psychologists, always six steps ahead of us grownups. When we ask Kitty why she threw the cat onto the roof, invariably we hear “I don’t know.” But when she repeatedly badgers us over why she can’t play with Sylvester anymore today, we feel obliged to offer up 15 different answers in the vain hope of hitting on one she’ll approve of.
Giving kids the reasons underlying our discipline is wise practice. It tells them there is method to our madness and that we’re not simply bucking for “Tyrant Parent of the Decade” honors.
We actually do have a rationale for wanting the trash hauled out before the bacteria multiply enough to eat a hole in the house.
Giving kids the reasons for our discipline fast becomes unwise — not to mention nerve-wracking — when we start repeating ourselves.
There’s not a parent in the world who hasn’t at some point bellowed, in total exasperation, “Because I’m your mother; that’s why!” Or “Because I said so!” Or the wonderfully elegant “Just because!”
No doubt you’ve reviewed for Ripley the reasons for all your rules and requirements hundreds of times. And he’s still a preschooler. It’s not that he doesn’t believe or understand your motives. It’s just that he doesn’t agree with, like or appreciate them.
Can you really expect him to? He’s a kid. If he agreed with all your parenting moves, he wouldn’t need you to teach him virtues and values. He’d see childrearing from a parent’s perspective. He could raise himself.
Obviously, on complex issues such a smoking or driving privileges, discussions are in order. But on most day-to-day matters, I’m sure you’ve explained yourself ragged.
Why drag through the same verbal ritual each and every time it’s Madge’s turn to clear the table or Tailor has to put his jacket in the closet instead of over the sink?
Here, no explanations are called for. Discipline is.
Want more of Ray Guarendi’s wit and wisdom?
The doctor and dad is in at DrRay.com.