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Limited time: The 5-step strategy to setting effective limits with your child
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I was sitting on the couch, waiting for my son to finish the bedtime routine so that we could finally go to sleep after a tiring day. He knew exactly what he needed to do before going to sleep. But that evening he didn’t seem to want to do any of it.
Instead, he started asking me questions about every step of the bedtime routine.
Why does he need to wash his teeth every night? What would happen if he would skip this only for one night?
Why does he need to put his pajama on? What if he would sleep in the clothes that he wore during the day?
Why can’t we play another board game before bedtime? Why can’t we have another snack?
And the questions kept coming. What started like a nice conversation soon became an exhausting discussion that seemed to have no end. I knew that he wasn’t asking all these questions because he was genuinely curious about the answers. He just wanted to postpone bedtime.
I was always open to answering any of my son’s questions. I tried to offer him explanations for all the requests that I made because I wanted him to understand my reasons. And I encouraged him to express his opinions when he didn’t agree with something.
But sometimes my desire to be a calm and understanding mom made room for a lot of nagging and unnecessary negotiations.
I knew that I don’t ever want to tell him to do something just because I said so. Because this is not the kind of mother I want to be. And in the long run, I think that this would also affect our relationship.
On the other side, I also knew that I needed to find a solution to stop the nagging and endless negotiations.
photo credit: Kamelia Ilieva / shutterstock.com
I noticed that many times my son would start a discussion about a task he needs to do just to postpone it, although he understands very well why he needs to do it.
Other times, he would ask the same thing over and over again, hoping that his insistence will change my answer. Or he would ask me to repeatedly explain him a rule every time he needs to follow it.
How we put an end to nagging and negotiating
I know how important it is to be patient and offer kids the explanations that they need. And I wanted to do this! But I also wanted to be able to keep my sanity during those long and tiring conversations when my son only repeated the same questions and requests over and over again.
So I came up with an idea that put an end to all the nagging and negotiating!
That night, when my son kept asking me questions about his bedtime routine with no other purpose than to postpone it, I decided to try a different approach.
I invited him to sit on the couch, next to me.
“I see that you have a lot of questions about the bedtime routine. Do you remember when we agreed on this routine? And that I explained to you why all the things you need to do before sleep are important?”, I asked.
“Yes”, he said, “but I still want you to tell me why we can’t do things differently tonight.”
“I understand”, I continued. “But it is very late and we need to go to sleep know. I already explained to you many times why the bedtime routine is important and I cannot repeat it. So here is what we can do: If you want us to discuss the bedtime routine again and answer all your questions, we can do this tomorrow. We can set a special meeting tomorrow and talk about this.”
My son had a surprised look on his face.
“Ok”, he said. “But I don’t want you to forget about this!”
So I took my phone and set an alarm for next day in the afternoon. Then I told him that he needs to go finish the bedtime routine because we need to go to bed in 5 minutes.
To my surprise, he did this without any other questions or complaints.
The next day, we had our meeting. We only needed 5 minutes to discuss the bedtime routine again and agree that every step is important. As I suspected, he already knew all the answers to last night’s questions.
He was very glad that we had the meeting. He told me that it’s great to have meetings and discuss things like this.
And this is exactly what I did!
We agreed on a weekly mom-son meeting. We decided to use the meeting to discuss any issues that appear during the week and to offer him any answers he might need.
How we implemented this idea
After that day, every time my son starts nagging or negotiating things that we already agreed on, I use the same approach.
First, I tell him calmly that I already explained him the reasons why that specific rule or decision exists. Then I tell him that if he still wants to discuss it, we can add it to our topic list for the meeting.
“I see that you still need more answers and explanations about this! Would you like to add this problem to our list for the meeting?” – This is the one magic phrase that made a huge difference in dealing with any moments when my son starts nagging or negotiating.
Sometimes he doesn’t even want to add that topic to the list. He tells me that he remembers why we have that rule and we don’t need to talk about it again. Other times, we add it to the list and we talk about it during our weekly meeting.
photo credit: Alena Ozerova / shutterstock.com
In some cases, I just need to provide him some additional explanations. In other cases, he explains to me why a rule or decision is very hard for him to follow. Then, we find ways to solve this. And in other cases, I agree to change a rule or a decision because I realize it’s no longer necessary.
Every discussion offers us a win-win solution.
We are both happy to work things out together. And this has a very positive effect on our relationship!
I noticed that debating a topic during the meeting happens a lot quicker than debating it when we are in the middle of the situation. This is because we are both calm. And we focus on solving the issue instead of engaging in a power struggle.
We use this approach in many situations and it works great! We finally put an end to those annoying situations when we would engage in endless debates that didn’t bring any positive outcome for any of us. And I’m so glad that we found this idea!
If you are dealing with the issue of endless nagging and negotiating, I recommend you to try this! You can use this method in many situations and it can really make a difference!
Your kids will feel good because they will know that their opinion matters to you. And you will feel good because you will avoid many power struggles and you’ll solve things in a gentle and positive way!
photo credit preview photo: Maria Evseyeva / shutterstock.com