Why You Should Never Get Tough With Your Kids, And Why You Should Be Gentle, Calm, and Loving Instead.
Why is it that so many parents have this idea that you’re supposed to get tough with your kids, when you want to get them to behave?
Why do we have this belief that the only way to really get kids to listen is to get harsh and tough with them?
They didn’t pick up after themselves like you asked? Send them to time-out!
They said ‘No’ to your request? Give them a smack! (or worse)
They lied to you? Take away privileges, give them extra chores, make them suffer to learn a lesson.
This is all completely misguided programming.
Getting tough, and making your child suffer only ever makes things worse.
And yet, you see this ‘tough-love’ attitude everywhere. On social media posts and comments, in advice given to struggling parents.
But I’m here to tell you just the opposite.
You Should Never Get Tough With Your Kids
You should never get tough with your kids. Ever.
Even in the most trying, desperate moments.
Even when there is an urgent need to get somewhere on time.
Even when you are at your wits end.
Getting tough doesn’t work
The tougher you are, the more your kid becomes afraid of you. And that is exactly the opposite from what you really want.
By making your children afraid of you, you might get short-term compliance with them every now and then. You might be able to get them to sit at the table until they are excused. You might be able to get them to pick up the shoes they left in the hall.
But ask yourself. Do you really want your kids to be afraid of you? Do you want them to grow up in fear of your actions, afraid of what you might do or say?
Do you really want the basis of your relationship with them to be based on fear?
No, you don’t.
The goal that parents really want is to have children who they are close and connected to, and who ultimately grow and mature into confident, happy adults.
Getting tough with your kids results in the opposite. Kids who you are less connected with, and who grow into insecure and less happy adults.
Getting tough destroys your relationship with your children
When you get tough with your kid, your connection with them erodes. Your relationship with them suffers.
And you don’t want your relationship to suffer because it’s the relationship with your children that is the real key to success in your parenting efforts.
So if you really want to help our children grow up to be happy, secure and confident kids, you must hold your relationship with them in sacred regard.
You should be working on building up your relationship with your children, not tearing it down.
And by getting tough, you are in fact tearing your relationship apart.
Don’t do that.
What to do instead
Instead of getting tough, get gentle.
Get really gentle, keep yourself calm, and empathize. You can be firm if you think the situation calls for it, and be gentle at the same time.
The 3 things to remember are to:
- Stay calm
- Be gentle
Here’s the thing. Kids actually want and need rules and guidance. The need to learn boundaries and what is appropriate or inappropriate in different situations.
And they need that guidance from their parents.
But they also need to know you’re guiding and correcting and helping in loving, connected and gentle ways. (Not by being harsh, demanding and tough)
So how do you get your child to listen when there is an urgent need? Such as getting out the door and off to school on time.
Be Gentle and Stay Calm
By staying connected, by asking gently, and by making it known that arguing about it is not an option. This action or behavior is going to get done. Those actions, for example, being: Putting on shoes so you can get out of the house and make it somewhere on time. Turning off the TV and helping clean up toys from the floor.
Asking calmly, gently, and in a connected way will get better results, and has the added benefits of keeping your relationship strong.
When remaining calm and peaceful doesn’t seem to be working, or when you get some oppositional back-talk or a complaint about your request, then you can empathize with their feelings, rather than arguing and engaging in a battle over the requested behavior.
Don’t get into a fight about it. Instead just say “I’m sorry you feel that way, but let’s get this done now rather than later please,” or, “I know you don’t want to, but we have to go right now.”
Keep on empathizing, keep staying calm, keep remaining gentle.
But keep after it too. Don’t let up just because your child is acting defiantly or is complaining about it.
Just don’t get into a battle and start arguing back.
And whatever you do, don’t get tough.
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Let me know what your thoughts are about getting tough in the comments!