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“When I have kids, I’ll never say ‘because I said so,'” I spat the words angrily at my mom. I was a teenager then. And of course, I knew everything. I can remember rationalizing that I deserved to at least know WHY I wasn’t allowed to go to my friend’s house.
My mother knew better. She knew that giving me a reason would give me the fuel I needed to mount an argument against her judgment. The phrase “because I said so,” gets a pretty bad rep, but in reality… it is one of those obnoxious parenting phrases that actually have a purpose. Sometimes, children need to learn to obey simply because the authority said so (unless of course, that authority is harming them, but that’s another blog post.)
Although that particular phrase holds it’s weight.. there are some other common phrases that you’re probably using that are hurting your parenting mojo! Are you ready to find out what they are? HERE WE GO!
In 1994, Thomas Phelan wrote a book called “1, 2, 3 Magic”. And suddenly every parent in the world (or at least in the United States) was counting.
Did you notice that I said “1….2….” and not “1,2,3?” While teaching preschool, I can’t tell you how many times I heard parents count to VERY VERY SLOWLY to 2 and then say “You get over here or else…”
If you never plan to say three and follow through with the disciplining, then save yourself the aggravation.
Personally, I find that counting to 3 just simply isn’t enough time for my child to react properly. I personally prefer counting down from 10. But I don’t pause between the numbers. In fact, I count VERY fast. “Aiden, get up here right now, 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3–” I never make it further than that because you should see how fast they run when you start spitting out those numbers so quickly! (I’m not gonna lie… there is something satisfying about it.)
I bet you’ve said this at least once today right? I know I have. “Aiden, If I catch you doing that again, I’m going to >> insert threat here<<.” This phrase is almost always followed by a threat. The problem with threats is that 9 out of every 10 times, you don’t follow through! Maybe you intended to, or maybe you knew it was a bluff right from the get-go, but your child had most likely assumed he’s in the safe zone.
This is an easy one to remedy! If your child is doing something that he didn’t know was wrong, then simply explain that it’s against the rules (and why if possible.) i.e.- “Bud, we don’t put our toys in the potty because they will get stuck in the drain and break it.” But if your child is doing something that he/she knows is wrong then instead of “If you do that again..” give yourself permission to go ahead and act on that threat right now. “Okay bud, we don’t jump on the bed. You have 5 minutes in time out.”
“Lina, clean up your Barbies right now or else >> insert threat here<<” Similar to the last one, “or else” is a common phrase we use to threaten our children with consequences. Anytime you’re threatening your child, you’re pretty much informing your child that you’re trying to get out of the actual act of disciplining. Think about it. “Or else ” Is usually the last ditch effort to get your child to obey so you don’t HAVE to take away that toy or put him in time out. Not to mention this one is PARTICULARLY good at working against you because you’re quite literally giving your child an option to disobey. (Going to bed a half an hour early may be preferable to cleaning up those barbies!)
Just like you can usually tell when your child is lying to you, your child can read you too. You have an intuitive little human who can see how much you love him and just how much you don’t want to discipline him. Unfortunately, your sweet little one is also already a master at manipulating your heartstrings and loving you into giving him/her one more chance.
Don’t be afraid mama.. your little one won’t love you any less because you set boundaries. If you’ve already explained a rule once, the go ahead and follow through without the threat!
Next time you hear yourself uttering one of these common phrases… bite your tongue, regroup, and make a new plan!
What about you? Is there a parenting phrase that you use that you know you should stop saying? Share it in the comments below!