Coping Strategies for the Pushover Parent

Hi! I’m Pepper, and I’m a pushover parent.  Yes, I’m starting to practice my spiel for when I begin attending one of those support groups- which will hopefully culminate in a night of unabashed alcoholic frenzy. 

I used to be in denial, thinking that my daughter’s behavior was acceptable, but eventually I realized that, without a doubt, I am a pushover mom.  My little girl is precocious, adorable, sweet, but at times she does treat me like a doormat.  And I oblige.  I tumble and fall just to give her what her heart desires.  When she gets fussy, I cave in. 

All hope is not lost, though.  There may not be any support group- yet- for this problem, but there are some things you can do, if you happen to be a fellow pushover parent.

Stay calm.  I know that’s easier said than done when your kid is having one of his or her episodes, but you really must try to be calm.  When children sense anger or anxiety in your voice, facial expressions, or body language, they turn a deaf ear to what you say.  Instead of listening, they end up feeling scared or angry.  You have to calmly and firmly state what they are doing wrong.  When you yell at the top of your voice, it distracts your kid from the actual misconduct.

Be consistent.  Whoever said that rules were made to be broken definitely has a screw loose- or just wants to be on the cover of the January 2012 issue of Playboy.   Any child would be confused if one day, it’s not okay to watch TV while having dinner, and the next day it’s perfectly alright.  Stick to your rules, however difficult it may seem. 

Enforce consequences.  As a parent, your job is to reward your kids when they obey you and punish them when they don’t.  Instead of making idle threats, try sticking to more reasonable consequences that are fair enough.  You can give you kid an additional chore as “punishment”, or probably cut down his TV-viewing time by an hour.  Try not to bribe your kid into obeying you, but be sure to praise him when he does.

Remember that each time you give in to your kid’s demands, you make the work much harder for yourself.  You’re only digging a deeper hole to bury yourself in.  Just stay calm and consistent, and sooner or later, your child will respond in the way you want him to.