Parenting is Full of Difficult Conversations
Shelby’s best friend since Kindergarten is Angel. Shelby’s parents Tim and Cheryl haven’t allowed her to spend time with Angel outside of school because they don’t like how Angel’s parents let her do whatever she wants. Shelby’s parents think Angel is becoming a bad influence on Shelby. They haven’t told Shelby any of this though, they just tell her no when she asks to go over to Angel’s house. Shelby feels frustrated, upset and confused which has led to her arguing and being more defiant at home.
Tim and Cheryl are avoiding a difficult conversation with their daughter. Also, they’ve set a new rule with no explanation for why it’s been set.
- There’s no ‘perfect’ way to tell a child they can’t spend time with a friend anymore. But, avoiding the conversation isn’t helpful either.
- Children do well with consistency and structure. When that structure is changed, it’s common for a child to feel ‘off’ and act out as they try to understand their new normal, especially if they have little parent support
Strategy: Fumbling is better than Avoiding
- When any difficult situation comes up in parenting, (limiting friendships, puberty, death of a loved one, etc.) it is important that a two-way conversation occurs between you and your child. (A two-way conversation means you allow them to respond and participate in the conversation. A one-way conversation is a lecture.)
- It is also important for the conversation to keep happening. Once may not be enough. Allow your child to ask questions. If they understand, they are more likely to be able to accept.
This strategy won’t work in every situation. But, it’s a good start for trying to figure out how to change a child’s behavior for the better.