Often when people speak to me about their children’s non-compliance (over small reasonable requests), the dreaded word – consistency – pops up.
Consistency is an ideal and probably not what most parents can realistically manage – we all have bad days, we all have times when we’re not 100% focussed on what the children need us to be focussed on and many modern parents are busy to the point of exhaustion. Parenting experts harrassing us about consistency can make us feel guilty rather than empowered to do things differently.
The Power of Three is another Diane Levy strategy which I have adapted. This is to be used after every (OK, as many as you can manage and the more the better!) sleep or school (or any other ‘separation’) time. Make your first three reasonable requests in a conversational tone and make sure that compliance takes place (all the while ignoring any dramas). If the first three times of reasonable request are complied with after each separation time, you will find that other times of non-compliance lessen and over time will (largely) disappear.
My additive-extra goes like this: for every time we put up with rudeness; every time we given in to a demand to buy something; every time we accept unreasonable non-compliance – we will receive in response from our children at least three times more rudeness/demands/unreasonable non-compliance. (Non-scientific observation from our children and others around and about.)
Reasonable non-compliance might happen when a child is overwhelmed due to: feeling disconnected, sick, tired, hungry, scared or angry. There is little point in trying to achieve anything with a child in these states. What I do then is either deal with the issue (eye-contact and a hug, sleep, food, Boring Cuddle, or wait for the storm to pass) then make the reasonable request again.
Yes, this does mean I have to step over clothes some nights when I’d rather not. Yes, it does mean I don’t get to do things that I want to do from time to time. Yes, it does mean that I have to give the boys plenty of time to comply. Yes, it does mean that I have to be tuned in to their mental and physical state as much as possible. It also means that I can go shopping without resorting to bribery for good behaviour. It also means that they understand that their work doesn’t go away and that I will help (by providing what they really need) but not rescue them (by doing the work for them). It means that our boys understand how to behave when they visiting others or at school.
Remember the Power of Three – it’s a short-cut to consistency!
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