Stop Telling Kids to ‘Do What You’re Told!’

By Sarah MacLaughlin, LSW

Do you want to be told what to do? I haven’t found a single person who likes it. Whether you’re 4 or 40, it’s generally not a favorite. I know you still need your kids to follow directions, I really do. But the old ways of getting kids to do what they’re told are rooted in fear and shame: demand, command, spank, yell, use time-out, take away privileges and impose other consequences.

Despite many cultural shifts, we have not come very far from wanting children to be seen and not heard. People mainly approach parenting from a perspective of wanting to control children’s behavior and avoid their emotional outbursts. The aforementioned cadre of coercive and authority-based approaches are used because folks have forgotten (or simply don’t know) two things:

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7 New Ways to Navigate Defiance From Your Child

By Sarah MacLaughlin, LSW

There is something about your child looking you straight in the eye and saying, “No, I won’t do that,” “I hate you” or “You can’t make me” that challenges you to the core.

You are so not alone.

However, you can handle this annoying behavior better when your goal is to utilize your relationship with a child as motivation, rather than ineffective consequences and punishment. Here are seven strategies to help you stay composed when you are faced with defiant behavior from your kids.

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The Comedy of Parenting

By Sarah MacLaughlin, LSW

Long before we became parents (or even started dating for that matter) my partner and I prepared for parenthood. This took many forms, of course. One example is that I took some Early Childhood Education classes. My husband, Rich, took several workshops in stand-up comedy. If you think my skills outweigh his, you’d be wrong. I’ve got the theory part down. But he just kills it with his execution.

I know what I should do—what response would be best. I know how to use humor, silliness, and just plain Playful Parenting, but often; I react instead. That doesn’t usually go so well.

Every parent loses their temper from time to time. Small children want what they want and are happy to show their feelings when they don’t get it. Volume control is nonexistent. Conflicting needs, compounded by a child’s yet-to-fully develop-brain are difficult to navigate.

Rich has been paving his way as a parent with comedy from the beginning. He is a creative genius in this department. He has a litany of characters, each with their own voice and personality. They tell outrageous stories and ask ridiculous questions. He gets it all wrong and pretends to know nothing. My son Joshua thinks this is hilarious.
In situations where patience is required, I can usually hold my own, but certain circumstances just irk me. A big trigger is when I override my own good sense and engage in some sort of “bargain” with my four-year-old. (A word to the wise: Do not ever do this.)

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On Fostering a Culture of Curiousity

By Sarah MacLaughlin, LSW

You might think I’m going to spend this post talking about how we need to foster curiosity in our children. How important it is for growing people to be asked questions; not just told facts and answers (or what to do). Or how the power of inquiry can help build critical and flexible minds. furious to curious

I could spend several paragraphs honing my argument in favor of tinkering over timed math stations, or creative writing and performance art over book reports. Though I am a former educator in support of more developmentally appropriate and emotionally intelligent learning, my focus here is on parenting.

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