By Eliane, founder Parenting For Wholeness
A lot of parents are puzzled by how to get children to listen to them, do what they need to do, behave appropriately, without using any kind of punishments or rewards, without any manipulation and coercion.
Without even, as I recommend, ever using the word 'rule.' (Stay tuned for a full article on this soon. Click here if you're not already on my email list, to be sure not to miss it.)
One key condition that needs to be in place for this to happen is that THEY HAVE TO TRUST YOU.
Your children's deep trust in you is one of the most powerful tools you have to influence them.
And possibly the only real one left once they are teens and you no longer have much control over them.
So how do you develop that trust?
I've written about some of those ways before:
And made me realize it was time for me to write an article on it.
This key to having your children trust you and want to listen to your guidance is BEING HONEST AND AUTHENTIC with your children!
Here's an excerpt from my Clean Parenting module that teaches this topic:
Whenever you state an opinion or a potential consequence as a “truth,” you’re damaging your credibility with your child, as well as her trust in you. You’re also teaching her to be manipulative in order to get a result she wants.
This is so rampant in our society that you may not even be aware it’s happening.
Examples of it are:
The truth is that YOU DON’T KNOW IF THAT IS TRUE!
Some proofs of that:
So here you need to seriously ask yourself why you want your child to do a certain thing. Just this can lead to some serious personal growth.
Examples of honestly expressing your request:
By honestly expressing yourself, you’re naming the real issue. Your child then has a chance to respond and address it. You’re starting a dialogue.
She gets to learn how to be safer, healthier, more appropriate, from a place of information, not control.
In your list of situations, notice if there’s anything you say to your child which you can’t know with absolute certainty to be true.
Children (humans!) respond to authenticity, because it is alive. It is what is unarguably true. You can HEAR and FEEL authenticity. It creates goodwill. It inspires. It connects. It taps into their innate desire to please you. It awakens what is alive in them.
When you’re authentic you’re taking responsibility for your feelings. It can be challenging because it can force you to be vulnerable.
Examples of authentically expressing your request:
Now think of a situation in which someone is trying to CONVINCE you to do something.
How does it feel? How do you react?
Now think of a situation in which someone would like you to do something for them, and they are honestly and authentically expressing their reason for it.
How does that feel? How do you respond to that?
Write your experience of that reflection below.
And now another question around authenticity:
Does anything come up for you around being authentic with your child? Does it feel uncomfortable? Scary? Wrong?
One caveat of authenticity is that you need to make sure what you’re sharing with your child is appropriate and presented in a responsible way. You don’t want to make them feel responsible for your feelings. You don’t want to pour out your heart full of pain in a way they’re not able to handle or relate to. You don’t want to overshare.
Children can handle our range of feelings, as long as we express them responsibly and take responsibility for them instead of blaming others. It's actually important that they do see us experience negative feelings and see how we handle them. Otherwise how will they learn how to behave when they have strong feelings?
Also, us naming what’s actually going on and which they’re likely picking up on and feeling, helps them relax. It makes their world make sense, instead of living in the discord of being told everything’s okay or seeing mom pretending to be happy when they clearly feel it’s not the case, which is a form of gaslighting and pretty damaging to one’s sense of self and ability to function well in the world.
Here’s a story that helps illustrate all this:
In one of my Clean Parenting groups, I shared that when my girls were little, for one day in my cycle, I’d feel like I turned into a ‘possessed evil bitch’ (excuse the language.) I would be incredibly irritable and at times told my girls things I deeply regretted the next day. So I told them to just ignore anything that I said on my PMS days because I couldn’t be trusted on those days.
Inspired by this story, Kim decided to do the following:
"The cloud" descended on me yesterday (as in "hello darkness my old friend") and I made it beautifully through without the girls even guessing that I was feeling "blue". This morning, however, the heaviness was much greater and whereas in the past I would be irritable and impatient with them because I just wanted to crawl in a hole and disappear, instead I shared how I was feeling with them. I decided I needed to be more honest with them. I told them I was feeling sad and it was not because of anything they have done. I explained that sometimes I feel sad and need a good cry (which gave a wonderful opportunity to talk about how good it feels to have a good cry). I then told them that my sadness made me feel irritated and impatient and that I wondered if they would mind working a little harder today on finding win-win situations with one another and I would try really hard, too, to not be impatient or snap at them. We all did marvelously with one another! There was only one incident in a store but we worked through it in minutes.
They "get" it! And have even used it back to me! "Mom, I'm feeling sad today. Can you hold me?" “Mom, I'm really mad at you for not letting us have candy".
But like I teach in this Clean Parenting module on How To Express Yourself When Guiding Your Children, integrating this (as well as the other 3 points covered in it) is likely to take a while.
It’s likely to require you to develop a lot of self-awareness and new ways of being that are very different from what you have learned and have practiced for most of your life.
And if you'd like my support in parenting honestly and authentically, and integrating clean parenting into your family (this article gives you a taste of what that will look like, with it being half of one of 21 program modules,) email me at Eliane@ParentingForWholeness.com.
I would LOVE to work with you if my Clean Parenting™ program is the right fit for you!