Have you had one of those weeks – or months?
Your children refuse to listen. They feed off one another. As they revel in defiance, the established routine goes out the window. Even a simply request creates a one-sided debate. As patience wanes and tension mounts, you recognize that feeling.
You are about to blow.
Here are your choices.
- Start a yelling contest – convinced that you can win.
- Cancel every holiday for the following decade.
- Fake a mysterious illness, faint and wait for your children to respond with concern.
- Go on strike.
Although I will admit “starting a yelling contest” more than once,” don’t go there. It can lead to a nasty argument. Worse yet, it sets a precedent – one that’s extremely difficult to overcome. In other words, yelling becomes an acceptable way to communicate. Several of my kids then used my less-than-appropriate behavior against me.
Over and over, they yelled – sure that I would eventually respond in like manner, because I had yelled in the past.
Not the way to connect and build trust!
“Canceling every holiday” can be tempting in a moment of utter frustration. But do parents really mean what they say? Can they possibly follow through? Once hasty words leave the lips, they aren’t easily erased – or forgotten. Moreover, outrageous statements on a regular basis become a game of “crying wolf.”
When I offer a well-intentioned, rationale comment in the future, will my children listen? Or will they assume I’m blowing smoke once again – unable to recognize the difference?
Not the way to show self-control!
“Faking a mysterious illness” – or anything for that matter – is a crap shoot, unless your Thespian skills are second to none. Even on days when the bowling fairy dropped a 10-pound ball on my head as I slept – and left me feeling like crap in the morning, several of my kids showed little sympathy. Much less empathy.
“You’re faking” was their immediate response – probably because they had done the same themselves. Takes one to know one.
Not the way to emphasize integrity!
That leaves “going to strike”
Over the years, a strike has worked wonderfully at my house – when carefully implemented. The key lies in the approach.
TIMING is everything. For starters, a strike cannot be overused. Otherwise, it loses effectiveness. I recommend no more than one strike every two to three months. Weekends worked better for me than weekdays, mornings over late afternoons.
Put your TONE in neutral before speaking – with no signs of anger or jubilation. Rather than using too many words that can trigger an argument, I simply make the announcement. “I am now on strike.” A hand-made sign can add to the moment.
My list of CONCESSIONS follows – similar to an actual labor strike. They must make sense and must not over-reach. To limit discussion, I stick to tasks or chores that my children have done in the past. I then make my expectations clear. Until they are completed (which should take 45-60 minutes), no eating my meals! No riding in my car! No using my internet! No watching my television!
Now to stay cool!
- I play upbeat music – to promote movement.
- I promise not to sing – to make my kids laugh.
- I remain positive – to reduce negativity.
- I work on my own list – to convey fairness.
- I help my children initiate their tasks – to model behavior.
- I give ownership – to create a sense of control.
- I wait for compliance – to ensure accountability.
- I never add to the list – to avoid resentment.
Each and every time when I thoughtfully orchestrate my strike, the result is meaningful action. And with all hands on deck, my kids are amazed at their productivity.
Afterwards, I resist the temptation to lecture. My point’s already been made.
Better yet, several of my kids now show leadership. They motivate their siblings to act – before I’m pushed to call a strike.
Now it’s your turn.
Don’t be angry. Work smarter, not harder – and go on strike! DCP
For other tips on stepping out of the box and parenting differently, click here.
Craig Peterson publishes EACH Child every Tuesday. To subscribe, open this link and “Like” the page. EACH Child is Special” Working Smarter Not Harder to Raise Every ONE
To follow Craig’s progress in writing a book about raising his six children with special needs, click here: Adopting Faith: A Father’s Unconditional Love
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