By Jean Tracy
How would you feel if a parent giggled when her child spoke rudely to you? Would you wonder if that parent had a screw loose? It happened to me.
Case in point, I remember a mother and her 10-year-old daughter's first counseling session. I had never met them before. The daughter glared at me and yelled, "I'm going to kill you!" For once, I was speechless.
In my 22 years of family counseling, no child had ever threatened me or yelled at me. Her mother's response shocked me even more. She giggled. That's right. She giggled. This girl had just crossed the line from respect to disrespect. So did her mother's giggles.
Listen. Being positive is good. Being too positive is looney. Why would any parent choose to minimize negative behavior? Why would any parent reinforce disrespect? Why would any parent giggle?
I suspect that parents who act too positive when their kids misbehave are embarrassed by their kid's behavior. Here are three possible reasons why some parents giggle, praise, or make excuses when their kids misbehave:
They want you to minimize their kid's behavior too.
They fear you'll think badly of their child.
They hope you'll think the misbehavior is not so bad.
Will you be fooled by giggles and excuses? Will you think that calling you a vulgar name is really OK? Do you understand what this means for you? What if you are that giggling parent?
If you are too positive you'll:
Minimize rude behavior.
Exaggerate good behavior.
Sound phony when you praise.
Children know when you minimize. Children know when you exaggerate. Children know when you are wrong.
Making excuses, giggling, or ignoring your child's misbehavior destroys your natural authority to guide and train your kids. Without that authority, you'll end up raising monsters.
Destroying your own authority increases the likelihood of:
Reinforcing negative behaviors.
Upsetting everyone around you.
Assuring that everyone dislikes your kids.
Assuring that everyone disrespects you and your parenting skills.
Being disrespected by your kids.
Avoid being looney. Be positive with your kids but never too positive. Be kind when disciplining but never too kind. Be balanced. Discipline with kindness and firmness. If you do, you won't be reinforcing misbehavior. You'll be disciplining just right. You'll be building character too."
Jean Tracy, MSS, "Granny Jean" publishes "Tips and Tools for Character Builders, her Free top-rated Parenting Newsletter. Subscribe at her web site http://www.KidsDiscuss.com and receive 80 fun activities to share with your kids.
Jean Tracy, MSS, Author/Speaker, is a former teacher, probation officer, and child/family counselor.