Your attempt to have all the power.
When parents ask me,
How do I GET my kids to use the toilet?
How do I GET my kids to eat dinner?
How do I GET my kids to go to sleep at night?
My first thought is “how the heck should I know?” I’m not in the business of teaching parents more ways to control their kids.
Never in my 25 years of motherhood have I ever been able to GET my kids to do something they didn’t want to do. More specifically when it comes to potty training, eating and sleeping challenges, there is typically a deeper issue at hand.
Think about this for a minute. How do you make a child go the bathroom? How do you make a child eat something he refuses to eat? How do you make a child fall asleep? When it comes to these three areas, the child is clearly in control.
Now don’t get me wrong, bribing, coaxing, and rewarding may provide the desired result in the short-term, but the downside is that you can find yourself right back at it only moments later. With these problems the quick fix method does nothing to facilitate independence in your children over the long term or solve the problem in the short term.
Any attempt to try and “get the kids” to do what you want only reinforces for the child that, “you can’t make him” and here he asserts his own personal power. So if you are experiencing trouble in any of these areas, take a moment and think about your relationship with your child.
Are there areas of his life where you could offer him more control? Is he picking out his clothes? Is he able to decide on certain foods he will eat? Have you incorporated some of his ideas into the bedtime routine? Does he have free time to do what he thinks is fun? Are you inviting him to help out with the real jobs around the house or are you sending him to play with his toys?
Most of the behaviors we experience with our kids are symptoms of an underlying problem. As parents we tend to hone in on changing the symptom and miss the real problem all together. The next time you are tempted to ask, “How do I get…” think about a different question, “What will it take for my child to…” This will help you look at situation(s) from a different perspective, identify what might be missing for your child and what you can do to help him move forward.
Remember, you are the best parent for your children. It’s not an easy road, but it’s a road worth traveling.