A long time ago, I was a writer. That is, I used to write regularly, both professionally and during my free time. One of my free-time projects took place during the latter half of the previous decade, where I had a regular column for Chris Brogan's "Grasshopper New Media" parenting channel. This was GNMParents, and it was a great time. Now it's the first half of 2013 and I've decided to republish my old columns, unedited, partly as a reminiscence, and partly as a way of sharing this stuff with friends who missed them the first go-round. -- I'm smelling pretentiousness on my part, so I'm already hesitating on this. And you know what they say, "An ounce of pretension is worth a pound of manure." And yet, why not? I'm allowed a certain amount of ego-play on my own blog, right? Ok, so it's settled, I'm gonna start posting these things. Feel free to complain to the management, I'm sure they'll be very supportive.
Originally published 2006/11/20
Solving Parental Backlash: Validate Them And They Will Pay You Back With Interest
Having trouble with your kids? Are they being disrespectful? Want to fix it? Willing to try anything?
Validate them. In the moment.
When you ask them to take out the garbage and they turn to you and scream "I Hate You!", look them in the eye and validate their outburst. Respond with "I hear you. I get what you're saying. Taking out the garbage sucks. It smells, it's gross, it's awful. And I don't like doing it either. I understand how you feel and it makes sense. It's fair for you to feel that way."
I guarantee that this type of response will reduce the strength and frequency of the outbursts. In fact, over time, a validating response will encourage your kid to be more respectful, as they will have direct evidence that you respect them.
You may have to walk them through it a few times. You may have to ask for the respect, although you should do it at a later time, not right then, where you will appear defensive. But later, maybe at bedtime, maybe the next day, say "Hey, remember when I asked you to take out the garbage and you yelled at me about it? I would like to ask you to not do that, as it hurts my feelings. We all have to do work around here, and every once in a while it is your turn to work. I want to find a way for you to understand that my asking you to do work is fair, it is reasonable. You don't have to like the task, and you can complain about it. But don't yell, don't be disrespectful to me, don't curse me out, because I didn't invent garbage. I'm just the one who is in charge of dealing with it."
This may seem awkward, or in conflict with your urge to yell back, to be mad at them. But yelling will only reinforce their belief that yelling is the right way to go. And then no one wins.
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