“No matter how hard you try, you simply cannot control another person’s behavior. You can only influence it.” ~Dr. Scott Larson from “When Teens Stray”
Parents often ask us, “How do I get my kid to do what I want them to do?”
This question indicates that parents may be a bit more controlling than is helpful. Think about it. How would it feel if your spouse or boss said about you, “How can I get you do what I want you to do?” Probably pretty controlled.
It’s no different with kids.
One way we help parents understand this is by replacing the word “get” with the word “manipulate.” The question then becomes, “What’s the best way to manipulate my kid to do what I want them to do?” When put this way, it helps emphasize the controlling feel of the question. Let’s face it: none of us likes to be forced to do things, and hopefully that’s not our goal for our children, either.
We’ve found that using different language can help parents have a different attitude, and therefore be more respectful in their efforts with their children. So next time you hear yourself saying, “How do I get my kid to do what I want,” try replacing the word “get” with “help,” or “influence,” or “guide.” And exchange the “do what I want” to “do what’s best.”
You might just find yourself acting far more respectfully, and more effectively influencing your child’s behavior in the process.
If you feel stuck in power struggles with one or more of your kids, and making this shift is difficult for you, you might want to consider contacting us about some parent coaching.