How many times as a parent have you impulsively responded to your child’s request without giving it much thought and then immediately regretted it? Maybe you regret it because you said “no” too quickly and now you feel guilty. But lets be honest, its most likely that you said “yes” too quickly and now you have to do something you really don’t want to do or have time to do.
As parents, many of us fall in to the trap of giving our kids a response to their request too quickly. Why do we do it? We do it because we want to make our kids happy. We do it because we don’t want to hear their whining or complaining. We also might do it because we are juggling too many things and our mind is elsewhere when the request is made.
As parents, it is important to remember that we have the right to take time before we respond to our child’s request, whatever it may be. Taking time before responding can help us make well informed, thoughtful decisions and prevent things like resentment, guilt, conflict, and frustration. Taking our time can also be good modeling for our kids. As all parents know, kids are impulsive and like instant gratification. Showing them the importance of taking their time to make a decision and getting all of the information can help prevent them from making future poor and impulsive choices. It can also help them practice patience.
So how do you do this to make it most effective? Here are some tips:
- Thank your child for asking appropriately and indicate your need to think about it.
- “Thank you for asking me. I need some time to think about whether we can make that work.”
- Acknowledge that you understand that they would like a prompt answer, and give them a time frame in which they can expect a response. As mentioned above, kids are impatient and if they really want something, they won’t hesitate to continue to bother you until they have an answer. To prevent that, give them information about when they can expect an answer. This should hopefully prevent constant hounding.
- “I know you are anxious to have a response, but I need some time to think. I promise to give you an answer by dinner tonight.”
- Stick to your time frame. Consistency and reliability is important. If you say you will answer by dinner, then answer by dinner. When you are ready to give them your answer, thank them for their patience. This will reinforce this behavior in the future.
- “I appreciate your patience. Your father and I have decided that you can go to your friend’s house this weekend.”
So, remember, when your child makes a request, practice saying “let me think about it.” Even if you know what your answer is right then, get in the habit of giving yourself time to make a decision. This will be beneficial for everyone involved!
Remember, if you and your partner are getting stuck in parenting pitfalls at home and need a refresher on some helpful parenting skills, you can contact Family Therapy Center of Bethesda, LLC today. Let us help you find balance and harmony once more in your home!