Picture this: you go out for lunch with your mother-in-law. Junior, on a whim, decides to throw a loaded french fry at your spouse’s mother. It lands on her brand new pink sweater. “Look, a ketchup broach!” he laughs. “When I was a child, I’d never have the nerve to do what you just did,” chides grandma with an evil eye. And then she turns to you, “Haven’t you got more control over him than that,” she snaps. You cringe.
She’s right: you haven’t got the same control she had over her children. But the times have changed. Parents no longer rule over their children with fear. Nowadays parents want an equal relationship with their children, based on respect, love, and trust. But can you have equality with your children, and still get compliance? It’s a challenge!
It seems the rise of children’s power has been at the expense of ours. Children today are more independent, disobedient, and openly critical of adults than ever before. Let’s face it, we can’t make our children do anything they don’t want to do. Parents find themselves riding a horse with no reins.
The key is to achieve a balanced relationship with your children. Too much power on either end of the scale will make it tip. How do we keep the scales even? It boils down to these four pearls of wisdom:
o prove to your children that you love them and are on their side
o respect your children and show trust
o be firm
o be fair
I think if you try to follow these four rules, your children will reciprocate. They will care about what you think. If you already have a mutually loving relationship with your children–you’re on easy street. But if you don’t, you’ll have to earn it. For many parents and teachers, this is a switch–kids are supposed to earn our respect, not the other way around. This, however, is the key ingredient to unlocking everlasting change in how you and your children get along. It boils down to a change in how you perceive your children–friend instead of foe. Some of the skills I mention, like listening, seem simple but actually take a long time to perfect. Once you have mastered them, however, they will keep on making your relationship with your children better and better.
My communication dynamics are divided into three dyads: parent + child, teacher + parent, teacher + child. This does not mean that a teacher couldn’t benefit from reading information directed at a parent or vice versa.