Life and Health

How to Fail At Using Parenting Expert Advice

As parents, we want our children to behave appropriately and make good decisions. However, there are times when children act out, break rules, or make poor choices. In these instances, it’s important to give consequences that will help them learn from their mistakes and make better decisions in the future.We had a giant meltdown and temper tantrum over the fact that she couldn’t watch TV before dance class. I had warned her yesterday that this might happen and yesterday she (very maturely) said “ok, I won’t even ask for TV tomorrow before dance class.” Ha! I should have known that was luring me into a false sense of security.

Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

Today, you would have thought I had ripped her right arm off by not allowing her to watch 5 minutes of TV before leaving for dance class. It wasn’t my finest parenting moment so I just said “that’s it, I’m tired of these meltdowns over TV, no more TV this week.”And here is how I didn’t follow the “expert” advice when holding her accountable for her behavior:

  1. Be clear and consistent. I did not give her any warnings — she has been told about this behavior in the past and I understand she’s disappointed and frustrated but so was I so instead of warning her this was coming I just said it….of course now I have to stick to it because if I cave on this I’m going to create a whole new set of problems for myself.Focus on the behavior. I did not call her a terrible and ungrateful child. I did express my frustrations at her behavior because she was “acting a fool” but it probably came out a little harsher than I had intended.Use natural consequences. Not sure what natural consequences would have been for flailing around on the floor kicking and screaming like she was spurting arterial blood because I had simply said “no.” I’m hoping the loss of TV due to her profound, deep feelings for an electronic box will be natural enough to break her habit. Sometimes life is disappointing kiddo, but we need to figure out ways to deal with it.Make consequences proportional. I’m not sure if the rest of the week is proportional for one 10 minute meltdown but maybe it’s proportional enough to make an impact. She and I routinely get into arguments about the TV and her addiction to it. Sometimes it’s because her father and I have different opinions and she unfortunately gets stuck in the middle between us. This time I made sure to call her father and tell him that she gets no TV for the rest of the week.

Before I was a parent, I thought I wasn’t going to negotiate with her, bribe her, or yell at her because I am better than that and then I became a parent in the messy real world and realized that all of these techniques have their place and that’s why parents have been relying on them to varying levels for decades. I may not have been the paragon of parenting wisdom and patience today while fighting with my almost seven year old but we’ve somehow made it through. We’ve, so far, successfully navigated all the potholes and speed bumps.All the “expert” advice is useful but sometimes, as we’ve all experienced, expert advice and real world living aren’t always in tune with each other. On occasion when we’re both having a bad day at the same time we have to wing it and hope for the best. I don’t know what’s going to be the fallout from this particular event but so far things seem to be ok.