Building on last week’s theme regarding the way parental messages are delivered ( “Your Inside Voice”), a mom recently talked to me about her very strong willed, temperamentally challenging child named Abbey.

You know the type – the ones that always go against the grain. Whatever direction the family wants to go, she wants to go the other way. Flexibility of style and “going along with the program” are not qualities that come to mind when thinking about Abbey.

The mom  told me felt like she was turning into a screaming, raving lunatic (her words). For example, getting Abbey dressed and out the door is an enormous battleground, whether getting ready for events like birthday parties, soccer or going to school.

My question to the mom was why she cared so much about any of it when there were logical, built-in consequences to the child’s choices that are there for the child to experience.

Why do we get so caught up in rushing kids to things like birthday parties or soccer, even school if the child is being difficult and minimally compliant?

As an alternative to mom’s characteristic style, a  firmly delivered, but very matter-of-fact statement, such as the following works wonders:

“Abbey, I know you were looking forward to going to your cousin’s party, but you didn’t get dressed when I asked. Now we will be very late,  if we even go at all.  By not listening when I asked you to get ready, this is the choice you made.  Let me know when you are ready.  Oh, and one more thing, if we miss the birthday party, there’s not one electronic device on in the house for you for  the rest of the day.”

No anger. No lecture. No raised voice, but eminent clarity.

Copyright, 2022

Questions or comments email Dr. Selznick: