Alternatives to threats

Every parent knows the scenario. Your child does something over and over until you blurt out a threat often regretting the words as soon as you say them. The problem with making threats is that they are often not followed through. This tells your child that you are not serious and they will likely continue the behaviour. 

There are much better ways to get your child to do what you want them to do. You have to think before you speak. Telling your child that if he does something one more time, you are going to lose your mind, will not change what he is doing. Stating a clear direction or expectation will usually result in a better outcome. 

If you’re trying to get your child to stay in his bed, instead of saying, “If you get out of bed one more time, I am going to get really mad,” say, “I expect you to stay in your bed all night”. This is a clear expectation. 

If you are trying to get your child to eat his vegetables, instead of saying, “If you don’t eat your peas, you will sit here all night,” say, “There will be no snack tonight if you don’t eat your peas.”This still gives your child the choice to eat his peas or not, but he also knows that there if he does not, he will not get his nightly snack.

If your child is running around in the grocery store, instead of saying, “If you don’t stop running, you cannot watch television when we get home,” say, “Will you help me find the biscuits that we like?” You are distracting him from his negative behaviour and offering something positive for him to do.

If your child is screaming in the car, instead of saying, “If you don’t stop screaming, we will go back home,” say, “I cannot drive safely while you are screaming, so I will pull the car over and we will not go to the park until you can stop.” This will let your child know that his screaming has a negative effect and there is a consequence.
 

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