Last week I posted about listening to your child and trying to find times that your child is available to talk. Many people commented on the value of just showing up to be available to talk. It’s a challenge to us busy, goal-oriented parents. In fact, last week I meant to write about this week’s topic but I realized that finding time to talk is really most important.

So, now I turn to the other. It often comes up when parents talk to me about problems with their children’s behavior. The problem usually appears when you have set a limit. Perhaps you have said that your middle school child cannot go to a rock concert with friends because you think the scene is too grown up for him. There might be drugs and drinking. It is important to set a limit like this in the context of a discussion in which your child gets to explain why he wants to attend the concert and gets to tell you what he knows about the event. You also should explain what you know and what your concerns are. You can even empathize about the way it makes him feel to have to tell his friends he cannot go. If it’s your judgment that the scene is inappropriate, you need to go with it.

The conversations that I advise against are the ones in which you find yourself explaining your position over and over to questions of, “But, why, Dad?” There comes a time when you might say, “I have told you many times, and I am not going to discuss this anymore.” Many parents are troubled by this and tell me that they feel rude when they stop the conversation. They have heard that parents should listen to their children, but they haven’t understood that listening to badgering and manipulation is not helpful.

Remember that your children are learning about how to interact with authority from you. They are clumsy about it. If you have given in in the past when you were badgered by your child (and I think most of us have), you will find that when you begin to end the conversation, you child might act dramatically wounded. You may wish that your child would just stop without your having to stop the conversation. Remember, you child is learning. If you are consistent in this, most children begin to get it.

This comes up with children of all ages around different issues. When you can calmly refuse to engage in an interaction in which you feel badgered and manipulated, you teach your child a lesson in respectful interaction.

Author's Bio: 

Parent Coach and Licensed Psychologist, Carolyn Stone, Ed.D. (www.drcarolynstone.com) educates parents of children with learning disabilities, ADHD, Asperger Syndrome and anxiety about their children’s needs using humor and evidence-based practices. Parents learn new strategies through role play and homework. She teaches children to manage their anxiety and attention and to understand their learning styles. You can learn about Dr. Stone’s work from her blog at http://www.drcarolynstone.com/blog/.