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Desperately seeking YES

By Michael Grosse

Ever had a child who keeps asking for a favour or a treat until they get the response they want?  

These kids generally use one of two strategies. They may either nag or hound you until they get an affirmative or they will seek out an adult who will give them the answer they want.  

The first method, which is based on persistence, is generally very effective to use with tired parents and sole parents who are more susceptible to this type of behaviour  

“All right have that ice cream. Anything for some peace and quiet” is a response that most people who have spent time around children are familiar with.  

The second method is a little more devious but very effective and usually occurs in dual parent families. You know the situation. A child’s request for a treat, favour or outing is turned down for good reason (‘No Jessica you can’t have an ice cream now. Wait until after dinner’) but the child goes to the other parent who may well give them the affirmative they are seeking.  

Minor event but very irritating.  These situations can drive parents crazy and are indicative of two people are operating on different parenting planes. If it happens every now and again then it is no big deal. However if one parent is always granting a child his or her wishes without consultation or thought of how the other parent thinks or what they are doing then it is probably time to step back and reflect on how you can both work together.  If it happens frequently your child will learn how to play one parent off against the other or manipulate situations until they get what they want.  

It sounds sinister but it is not. It is just how we human beings tend to think and behave. Most of us learn intuitively who to ask at work for a favour and who will give you a negative response.  

This type of parental manipulation can occur for many reasons. Either it is due to different standards of behaviour or thoughts about bringing up children or a lack of understanding about what has happened in a child’s day. Regardless of the reason it means that parents need to communicate between themselves and also get the message across to their child or children that it is taboo to keep seeking out a parent until they get the response they want.  

Be firm when a child goes to another parent in search of a yes after they have received a knock back from another.  

“Where did you get that ice cream from? I already said no.”  

“Daddy said I could have it.”  

“I am sorry but you should not go to daddy after I said No.”  

The other technique that you can use which is very effective if one parent is a jellyfish and gives in all the time is to defer to the other parent whenever they ask some a little tricky.  

“Okay Jessica, I’ll just check with dad and I’ll get back to you.”  

This strategy can be a little wearing and even artificial but it is helpful in bringing the other parent into the act and also demonstrates that you are double not a solo act.  

Most dual parents play good cop/bad cop where one is more the disciplinarian or hard-line manager and the other is the play director. That tends to be the way of families.  

This is wearing on the bad cop so it helps if you can swap roles occasionally (or even backbones) and give the other parent a break.  

Michael Grose, a popular parenting expert, shows you practical ways to raise happy, confident, well-behaved kids and resilient teenagers. Improve children’s confidence and behaviour now and get Michael’s free ebook ’25 ways to speak so children will listen’ at http://www.parentingideas.com.au . While you are there subscribe to Happy Kids newsletter and get regular updates to build your 21st Century parenting manual.


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