Two of the best words in parenting! When used properly and in the right context you will find these two words decrease power struggles and increase your child’s sense of control and power. Your child was born hard-wired needing their buckets of attention and power to be filled each day (adopted by Amy McCready of Positive Parenting Solutions). All humans need to feel that they are getting the right amount of attention and the right amount of power/autonomy over their own world each day. Without these two areas being full-filled they will do whatever works for them to get them filled, power struggles, tantrums, lashing out, and the list goes on. Kids will get that needed attention and power whether it’s positive or negative. They will take it however they can get it. This is where our part comes in. We need to do our best to recognize where they are missing their attention and/or power and try to fulfill their needs in a positive, rather than negative way.
This is where ‘Either….Or works beautifully! This is an excellent strategy for you to try with you kids at home. It won’t come naturally at first, but keep trying. It will take some thought and effort as you begin to implement this tool and you will feel funny using vocabulary that you’re not familiar with, but stick with it and before long it will be second nature. The best time to use ‘either…or’ statements is when your kids begin doing something that needs a quick response. You need them to stop doing something so you offer a quick ‘either…or’ choice. This choice gives them the opportunity to make a decision based on what you’ve presented them. Instead of you telling them what to do and becoming the person ‘in charge’ you grant them two choices in a respectful manner and it takes away the sense that they need to struggle with you. Here are a few examples:
it’s dinner time and your kids aren’t coming to the table: “EITHER (pause) you come to the table OR (pause) you are telling me you don’t want your dinner and I can throw it out.”
your kids start to run in the grocery store: “EITHER (pause) you walk nicely next to the cart OR (pause) you will have to hold my hand.”
You are creating quick choices for them to decide what they want the outcome to be. It is giving an outcome that will work for YOU and THEM! This is what we, in parenting circles, call freedom within limits. It allows your child freedom to have the power to make some choices, but within limits where you know the outcome is desirable and safe. Once you begin implementing this parenting tool you will see how positive this method is. You will begin to notice the decrease in power struggles and the way your child responds to this type of command will keep you coming back for more! Let me know how it goes!!
For further help on implementing tools and techniques to make your parenting journey more peaceful contact me for one-on-one coaching done remotely via email and phone.
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