“Please get dressed Emma. Emma it’s time to get dressed. We’re going to be late. Emma, you need to put on your clothes. Emma please.”
This is where you promise yourself you are not going to yell. You breathe deeply sucking in your breath like a drowning woman gasping for air. And then you lose it! “If you don’t get dressed, I’m taking away your teddy bear!” Now Emma is sobbing. A pang of guilt stabs your gut and suddenly you’re on your knees trying to zip a coat and begging. “Emma, please, if you get dressed, I’ll give you two pieces of candy.” This is NOT what you ever imagined.
Do you feel like you are constantly begging your child to do what you ask? Ultimately ending up threatening to take away a privilege or resorting to a bribe just to get her to respond?
• It doesn’t have to be that way.
• It really is possible to get out the door, toys picked up, homework completed and more – without begging.
You can be an emotion coach!
Emotion coaches don’t beg nor do they toss out empty threats – even if sometimes it would be really tempting to give it a try. They do provide predictability so their child knows what to expect. They do state the expectation then follow through. And they avoid empty threats by making certain that what they say they will do, they are actually willing to do and able to do. Let’s take a look.
Emotion coaches are predictable:
If you’re begging your child to get dressed, take a bath, turn off the television or do his homework, there’s a strategy for you. Be predictable. When there isn’t an established point in the day to do these things, every time you direct your child to do one, it’s a surprise which immediately sends him into the “red zone” and sets you up for a power struggle.
So the first thing you can to do in order to stop begging is to create a predictable routine. That way, both you and your child know what to expect. For example, you might always get up in the morning, use the toilet, get dressed, comb hair and then have breakfast. The television NEVER goes on. Or, after school, you always have a snack, do homework for 30 minutes and then play until dinner. Your child quickly learns that you do not move on to the next thing until the present step is completed. There’s no fighting about turning off and on the television, or going to a friend’s house before homework has been started because you always do the same thing. Okay, so sometimes there’s a “monkey” day when things are different but those are the exception rather than the rule. We know for some you this is “natural” and for others it’s an internal wrestling match because you love flexibility and spontaneity. Those are valuable traits too, but when it comes to daily routines they can get you into trouble.
Emotion coaches stop to ask, “What’ up?”
Once you have your routine in place, if one morning your child suddenly resists or falls apart, it’s so much easier to recognize the “red flag” that something is “up.” Making it exponentially simpler to put on the brakes, give the calming hug and ask, “What’s up?” Taking time to listen and calm opens your child to working with you and you never have to beg.
Emotion coaches say it once then follow through.
Ever get tired of repeating yourself? “Emma it’s time to leave. Emma, I’m going to the car now. Emma…" Emotion coaches know how to avoid this frustration too. When you ask your child to do something, include what you will do if she chooses not to comply. Like, “Emma, it’s time to go. You can choose to walk to the car, or I will choose to carry you. I’m going to count to three and if you do not choose to walk, I know you are choosing for me to carry you." Then you count and if she doesn’t walk out you let her know she made a choice and pick her up. Even if she says she’ll now do it now, it’s critical that you do what you said you would do. She had fair warning of what the choice was so now there’s no second chance. Rather than being “mean” this actually is reassuring to your child that you do what you say you will do. You can be trusted.
So next time you find yourself down on your knees in front of that little three foot general begging for compliance, stand up, throw those shoulders back and know there really is a better way.
You can choose to be an emotion coach!