By RUTH LIEW
MOST children today have their parents well trained. They know what they can do to get their parents to agree to their demands.
Many parents are too afraid to say no to their children for fear of losing their affection or upsetting them.
There will be times when you have to say no. Children can learn from experiencing small doses of frustration. They learn how to manage it. They can accept the “no” graciously and make the best of the situation. When they are older, they will know how to face challenges with confidence and skill.
Children who are always waiting to be pleased will face an adult world that is not going to please them. They may be greatly disappointed by many people who are not going to do things their way. They may have broken relationships with other people because of their unrealistic expectations.
One four-year-old boy wanted his mother to buy him chocolates at the check-out counter. His mother refused. He stomped angrily and screamed his lungs out. The mother did not want other people to hear him so she quickly bought him the bar of chocolate.
A 13-year-old girl asked her mother whether she could join her friends for a movie at the mall. Her mother did not think she was ready for such an outing without adults accompanying them. She felt uneasy with the group of friends her daughter liked to hang out with.
But this teenager knew full well how to get her mother to agree.
She told her mother how she was always cooped up in the house with no entertainment.
She also reassured her that they were only going to watch a movie and nothing else. Her mother, who had a busy working schedule, felt sorry for her daughter and caved in after much persuasion.
Many school-age children and teenagers have their parents figured out.
There are times when their arguments are logical and persuasive. What they say plays on parents’ desire to please. When parents refuse their children’s demands, they get some real ugly responses.
One 14-year-old told his mother that she would lose him as a son if she discontinued the use of his handphone. He had lost this privilege as a result of not keeping up with an agreement he made with his parents.
This teenager preyed on his mother’s feelings. He knew that his threat would hurt her terribly. He was hoping that she would feel slighted by his displeasure and change her mind.
Fortunately, this parent knew what was more important. She was consistent and reasonable in handling her son’s behaviour.
Parents who try to please their children would let them get away with the “just this once” requests.
Children know that parents feel easier when they tell them, “I promise I will never ask you for this again.” This may sound reasonable enough if it does happen only once. Sadly, there are too many of these “just this once” requests.
It is important that parents have the courage to say no and stand firm in maintaining order.
Do not be afraid of what other people will say when you tell your child who is acting badly in a public place, “You are behaving very badly. As we have agreed, we will have to cancel our shopping trip and head on home.”
Children behave better when they know their parents will not entertain their every whim and fancy.
In fact, they turn out to be well-mannered and caring people.
They understand that their parents are committed in raising them with good values and doing the right thing.
A five year-old girl helps her mother choose certain vegetables at a hypermarket. She also wants a carton of ice-cream for dinner.
Her mother tells her that she cannot have ice-cream as dessert but she can choose a carton of yoghurt and some fresh fruits instead. The alternative is equally attractive to this little girl.
Happily she chooses the kind of yoghurt she likes.
By allowing her daughter to share some of her responsibility, this mother has gained her co-operation. Her child did not feel unhappy that her request for ice-cream was denied. She was allowed a healthier choice that goes well for both parent and child.
Since our job as parents is to guide our children, we may have to act in a way that will not please them.
This dissatisfaction on our children’s part will last only until the next thing that they desire from us.
But, what they learn in the long term is how we are consistent and trustworthy with our parental duty.