Beyond the time-outs, bribes, and good job’s, there are other methods that parents use that are just as disheartening and manipulative. Meanwhile, parents can learn to model good behavior.
They only succeed in getting the children to do what the parents want them to do and have very little to do with the child’s actual needs. The following are some examples of disconnect and solutions that can help to strengthen the bond between the child and the adult:
Example 1: “Stop throwing things or else!”
Solution 1: “I’m noticing that you’re throwing things in the living room. Do you just feel like throwing? Let’s go outside and find toys that are okay to throw.”
Example 2: “Say Thank You!” or “What Do You Say?”
Solution 2: Instead of forcing your child to say thank you or please (which can embarrass them and produce an insincere response), a good way to have him/her learn how to say “thank you” or “please” is by modeling it. If someone gives your child a gift, you can say “thank you” if your little one doesn’t say it yet. The more you are saying it, the more your child will catch on.
Example 3: “Share your toys.”
Solution 3: Forcing your child to share when they are not ready can create distress and disconnection, especially when the parent grabs the toy out of their child’s hand to give to another child. When we stop persuading children to share and actually allow them the opportunity to decide on their own what they want to share, children eventually become aware of others’ feelings and the benefits of generosity.
Again, here is where modeling can be a great tool to show children about thoughtfulness and respecting the space of others. I read somewhere that when planning a play date for your child’s friends at your home, having a basket of your own toys is a great idea, if your child is not ready to share his/her toys. By sharing your basket of toys, you are modeling the concept of sharing to all the children present.
When the need to have a toy is so immense and urgent for a child, this is a red flag opportunity for the adult to become an observational parent by focusing on the feelings that the child is displaying vs. what the child is “doing.” When we are able to remember to become an observational and questionable parent vs. a demanding parent, children can learn to genuinely and freely share from the heart.
Also, if it is a special toy that the child recently received, you can ask if he/she is ready to share it and if the answer is “no” then suggesting to put it somewhere hidden or leave it in the car for the time being is a great way for your child to feel heard and an opportunity to ask your child once the toy is hidden what toys they are willing to share.
“I see that Amy would really like a turn playing with the dump truck. Tommy, are you open to letting her play with it?” If Tommy is not ready, then ask if he will be ready in a couple of minutes. If he says yes, then it allows for more ease for Amy, who is waiting. In the meanwhile, let Amy know that Tommy will be ready in a couple of minutes and see if she is open to playing with something else while waiting.