We were holidaying in a resort in Valparai, a hill station It was mildly cold in the morning. I wanted my seven-year-old son to wear the sweater that I had packed meticulously. He blatantly refused. That is not unusual. I deal with this kind of dressing fight on an average of three times per week, even back home. We were in a hurry because the guide who was to take us for sightseeing that day was already waiting in the lounge. I felt that wearing sweater was non-negotiable, considering his medical history of cold and fever.
The typical battle began. The screaming, running away and hiding behind his dad, etc., followed. That day in a stellar parenting moment, I pulled out the most mommyish threats ever. I told my impressionable seven-year-old son If he does not wear the sweater, then aliens will come and take mommy away. I even went so far in telling him that this is how the word ‘mother-ship’ w as coined. Emotional threats always work. Work gets done faster and most importantly the way want it.
But is it the right thing to do? Is this temporary victory worth it? “ If you do not clean up your room right now, you can forget about visiting grandpa’s house.” “ If you do not get the first prize, papa will not talk to you.” “ If you do not complete homework by eight tonight, I will leave you here and go.” “ Do not come back home without the trophy if you want the bicycle that I have promised.” Results will be achieved, but at what cost?
By these threats we could possibly instil a lifelong fear and insecurity in the child. In my case, my son suffered a year full of nightmares about aliens (To him any stranger is an alien!!!). Though the parental intention is positive and the need for quick results, threats on abandonment terrifies a child. As such as physical abuse dents the self-image of the child, abusing them with emotional threats creates fear in them. We may end up spending longer time and effort in getting them rid of this fear and insecurity.
Could we try little adjustments of words? “ As soon as you clean up your room, we can visit grandpa” “ As soon as you finish reading this, you can go and sleep” Courtesy: Frozen Thoughts: July 2011 – page :25
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