I will say it over, and over again, but teachable parenting realizes that
you don’t control others. I learned early on in motherhood that there were a
lot of things I couldn’t force my child to do like eat, use the restroom,
sleep, say sorry. Although I had some success forcing the sorry thing when we started to learn to sign language because I can’t force words out of my childs mouth, but I have a better chance
of rubbing their fist across their chest to form the word “sorry”. All joking aside, the Love and Logic method teaches you to stay away from commands that can backfire and try enforceable
goals instead. Something that’s enforceable means that you CAN force it. Enforceable statements are words that you can get behind and gain credibility in. I know that sounds vague, so I’ll break it down using some examples of what is and is not an enforceable statement.
Threats and manipulation imply that we control our children, and leave a lot of potential for power struggles. Here are some examples.
1. “The fighting in the back seat had better stop! Cut it out right now! I mean business. STOP!”
3. “Hurry up. We are going to be late. I told you you needed to get your backpack 10 minutes ago, now get it done! I’m serious.”
4. “You have to at least try two bites of brussels sprouts. You need to eat your chicken too. Please just try it. Mommy worked hard on this meal and you are being very disrespectful.”
These are NOT bad by the way. I am just suggesting an alternative that could work if you feel like you are on a hamster wheel getting nowhere with your instructions.
The enforceable statements go back to what I wrote a few days ago about staying calm in the heat of the moment
. With a strong willed child when you say do this
, do that
, you get a “You can’t make me!” attitude in response. They are exerting their independence and they are right, you can’t
make them. So when you act as though you can, you loose credibility. What the child needs to learn however is that there are consequences for their choices and a far less heated approach to this valuable lesson is to focus on what you as the parent are in control of. Remember “I will listen when your voice sounds like mine
“? That is the perfect example of an enforceable statement. Instead of “Stop whining. I mean it stop whining. We don’t allow whining in this car” Just take the lead and let the buck stop with you. I will listen when…
You are telling them what you are going to do instead of telling them what to do. Again, there is nothing wrong with telling your children what to do. You are in charge, just like the owner of a restaurant is in charge, or a teacher, or the president etc. However, this is one way to stay in control during a power struggle and as Love and Logic
puts it “turn your words into gold.”
So how would the above scenarios play out with enforceable statements? These are some of the examples I’ve adapted from Love and Logic
charge a dollar a minute to listen to fighting in the car. Will you be
paying me with chores, cash, or some of your toys?”
2. “I can take you to school when your backpack is
on. The school serves breakfast until 8:50.” *My son’s school does serve breakfast and he loves it, but you could say the bell rings, or the car leaves at ______ time
3. “Dinner is served until 6:00. That’s ten minutes from now. See the clock? When the big hand reaches the top that means dinner is
All of these of course have to be followed through with or your words aren’t going to carry much weight. For mothers of preschoolers they might not get it just yet, but they’ll learn. This is me escorting my 2 year old to the car because he would rather play chicken in the parking lot than follow instructions. That’s how it goes
sometimes a lot of the time with that age. Hang in there.
Enforceable statements are building blocks you can use to support the previous strategies we’ve gone over such as keeping calm and keeping things short and simple. It’s as easy as telling your little one what YOU are going to do and do it. Good luck!
This is day 16 of a 31 day series for the rest of Teachable Parenting click HERE.