self-defeating parenting behavior…

You’ve heard the phrase “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” This is especially true with parenting. Not only are certain behaviors self-defeating, but they increase the gap between us and our children rather than building connection so that we can help them.

  • While threats may sometimes seem to work in the short term, they tend to be invitations for misbehavior. The “If you….” portion of the threat flies by and what follows serves as a challenge to the child’s autonomy.
  • Bribes are sometimes used by desperate parents, who think that if they can only get through something, then everything will fall into place and they can handle things again. This is referred to as the If/Then Fallacy. It doesn’t inspire continued effort on the part of the child and instead conveys the parent’s doubt in a child’s abilities to do something. As with any reward, the emphasis is on extrinsic motivation rather than the instrinsic motivation observed in capable, self-confident individuals.
  • Promises merely cause grief for everyone. When a promise is required to convey that a parent will follow through on their word, it’s because the normal state is that the parent doesn’t follow through on what they say. Trust is lacking. Promises are also conditional; life happens and sometimes things get in the way, resulting in the cringe worthy phrase, “You promised!”
  • Young children don’t understand sarcasm and take what we say at face value, generally backfiring on the adult. As individuals mature (older children and adults), sarcastic comments invite further comment to be made, resulting in counter attacks.
  • Lecturing is merely tuned out or results in the person being resentful of the lecturer.

3 thoughts on “self-defeating parenting behavior…

  1. I would add:

    Time-outs, which can cause feelings of abandonment/isolation in some kids and be completely useless for other kids. It also takes a perfect learning moment and separates everyone involved.

    1-2-3: You know how this works, “Johnny, I’m going to count to three!” Why any parent thinks this motivates children to listen is beyond me. All it does is cause the child to feel bullied, and also see a challenge in fighting the control by pushing it to the very very end.

    • I was concentrating on verbal messages we send to kids in this post, but I completely agree with your view of time-outs. Punishment doesn’t accomplish anything except to show who is bigger and/or has more power. I prefer to focus on working with my children to come up with solutions to problems that work for all of us.

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