It’s time to start a revolution in America – a parenting revolution! Bit by bit, day by day, parents are slowly giving away their power. To whom you ask? To their children! There seems to be an epidemic of kids and teens running their households. Parents are left like deflated balloons, shrugging and wondering, “Where did I go wrong? How did this Happen? Or “Why don’t my kids respect me?” After seeing this issue sweeping through my private practice as a child psychologist, as well as witnessing it first hand as a mother myself, I got inspired to create “No Wimpy Parenting.” No Wimpy Parenting is a philosophy, as well as a set of resources to help parents take back their power. So if you’re ready to join the revolution, here are five easy steps to take your power back.
Step 1: Ask yourself, “Have I given away my power?”
Some parents may not be aware they’ve given away their power. It can be a slow and subtle process–and kids are so darn clever–that many parents don’t realize it until it’s too late. Here are some signs you’ve given (or are giving away) away your power.
- When you ask your kids to do something, they frequently respond, “No because…” or “First I’m going to…” or “I can’t because…”
- Your kids throw tantrums or get furious if you won’t take them where they want to go, buy them what they want, or help them with something. Yes, teens can throw tantrums too, it just looks a little more ridiculous. “But Mom! I NEED my phone!”
- You often find yourself threatening and warning over and over again until you’re so frustrated you lose your temper.
- Your kids make decisions about what they’ll attend and not attend, when they’ll go to bed, or when they’ll turn off the television or computer at night.
- Your kids ignore or laugh at your rules – even if you say there’s a curfew or a bedtime, it’s not really enforced and the kids know it.
- You often feel frustrated at the lack of respect you get from your kids and feel like, “My kids do what they want to do and don’t ever listen to me.”
Step 2: Reflect on “How did this happen?”
Some of the current popular philosophies of raising and educating children are disastrous for our families. We allow the child too much freedom and put the child in control. We are encouraging our children to be free and outspoken, to be empowered. But we are not helping them build their character. We are not teaching them enough about limits and discipline, about empathy and respect. It’s good to give your child choices, but we’ve taken that mentality and gone to an extreme.
Step 3: Redistribute the power appropriately (i.e., fill up your water gun!)
There are small things parents do every day that allow their children and teens to take the power. I call these “power suckers.” Imagine parenting as a big water gun fight. Every time you give away your power to your children, a little water dribbles out of your water gun. If this happens enough, you will have an empty water gun. Then guess what happens when you come face to face with your child or teen with your water guns raised, and you are trying to enforce a really important issue (curfew, dating, drugs and alcohol, etc.)? Your child looks at your empty water gun and laughs, saying, “What are you going to do?” They know you don’t have any ammo left.
Bwa ha ha!
- Many parents argue too much. They go on explaining the same thing dozens of times. If you have said something twice, then that’s enough. After the second time, you should act and not talk.
- Follow through. If you say, “If I find your shoes in the living room again, I’m going to donate them to Goodwill,” donate them to Goodwill if you find them again! Once your children know that you will do as you say, then you won’t have to do it. They will respect your word! Kids are natural gamblers and will roll the dice every time if they think there’s a slim chance you’ll give in, change your mind, or forget the punishment.
- Too many choices! Yes it’s good to give kids choices. But you shouldn’t ask them: Do you want to go to bed now? or Do you want to go to church today? If it’s something you want your kids to do, make it a statement: Time for bed or We leave for church in 10 minutes.
Step 4: Maintain the new power structure and be consistent!
- Follow through with consequences. If you ground your child from his phone for a week, don’t let him have it back in two days because he’s harassing you for it. If you put your child in time out for 4 minutes, and she giggles and runs away in 2 minutes, bring her back again. See punishments through!
- Keep it simple. Don’t try to focus on too many behaviors and issues. It will overwhelm you, and you won’t end up following through on anything. Choose the top 3-5 behaviors you struggle with, and try your best to correct and discipline those behaviors every single time.
- Keep a look out for sneaky power suckers – small things like kids ignoring you when you make small requests, refusing to cooperate, or telling you what they are willing to do. Small things eventually add up. You’re filling their water guns and depleting yours.
Step 5: Watch out for regression to the “old ways.”
Many parents enthusiastically embrace new parenting strategies and do a great job–for about 1-2 days. Then reality hits: Long days at work + tired parents + smart kids = parents who lose their resolve and get sucked into the bad habits again.
- Find an accountability partner – whether it’s your spouse, your parent, or your best friend, you need someone who will ask you daily – “How are you doing with Billy? Are you still following through? Are you still being consistent? Are you correcting his behavior every time he misbehaves?”
- Keep a parenting log. At the end of the day, take 5 minutes to write a summary of the day’s events. Example: Sent Suzy to time-out twice for noncompliance, but she was great the rest of the day. I verbally corrected Tommy a few times for disrespect and enforced grounding from television, which was taken from him yesterday.
Finally, remember these things aren’t to give your ego a boost and wear your kids down. Kids need and want boundaries and limits. It makes them feel safe, secure, and loved. So know that embracing No Wimpy Parenting isn’t just going to make you feel good, it will ultimately bring peace, stability, and happiness to your kids too! Ready to join the revolution? Visit NoWimpyParenting.com or WynnsFamilyPsychology to schedule your parent consult, get resources, and learn more!