Thursday, December 13, 2007

Fear as a Parenting Tool

As we take the girls places during the holidays, many people comment about how well-behaved they are. Several asked how we raised them to be so polite and to listen to us. Here's my secret: Fear. The girls are afraid of us.

They are not afraid we will hurt them or be mean to them. They are terrified that we will not take them anywhere. They LOVE to be out. They LOVE to go places. More than once I've threatened to leave them at home or not let them go to a class. It puts them into a complete panic. For some reason, the thought of staying home with all their toys is terrifying.

I haven't actually made them stay home -- yet. I have taken off my coat and shoes as I am threatening to make them stay home. I have also put my keys away and taken my purse off my shoulder. This immediately puts them into action. Clean the playroom? Done. Try to go to the bathroom? Done. Put the correct shoes on? Done.

So far all I've done is threaten them. Sometimes it just takes a look. Other times I'll say, "You don't have to go to Grammas. If you don't clean the playroom, you can stay home." Just the words cause them to do whatever I'm asking.

Yes, love and respect are good parenting tools, but never underestimate the power of a good threat. Fear works.

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