Good parents, in contrast to bad parents, build their communication with children on requests. Good parents ask, not demand. Good parents do not expect obedience and practice being Yes parents first before they get a Yes response from children. What else do good parents know about requests?
Do not demand that your children ask
If you are eating an apple and your child enters the room, runs to grab another apple, do not demand “What are you supposed to say?” If your child mumbles in response “May I …” it doesn’t mean you taught your child a lesson in good manners. In fact it was a lesson of tactlessness and humiliation, especially if you did it in front of other people. The child won’t think that he or she did something disrespectful, instead the child will come to the conclusion that asking for something is very uncomfortable, humiliating and feels bad. The child will hate asking, because he or she will remember how low valued they were viewed by the parents, and how disrespected it feels.
Reach your goal at your expense
A child doesn’t do anything to hurt you on purpose, unless you hurt his dignity first. If your child doesn’t respond to your request, especially in front of other people, there are many reasons. The child is busy with a game, or tired and not attentive, overwhelmed or simply doesn’t want to do what you ask. If you can reach your goal at your expense: by triggering your child’s desire with an interesting promise, or story telling, or by example, or by encouraging to do something together – this will be done by your own efforts. This is an act of goodness, increasing your child’s dignity. If you try to make your child do what you ask by threatening him, or by scolding, addressing your child’s sense of guilt, by shaming and preaching – it will be done at your child’s expense, by decreasing your child’s dignity.
Know why demanding is a lose-lose strategy
Most parents don’t feel comfortable, sometimes, if they need to ask a child something. “Who am I to bow to him? To be humiliated by him?” This happens when parents themselves are not free from fears, not internally free people. They are afraid of their children’s denial. They choose to demand, to threaten, to reach their goal by making children fear them. This strategy may work, but only for awhile. When children grow up, they start to rebel and eventually stop any communication with their parents. Demanding is a lose-lose strategy. Parents lose their children’s trust. Children lose their parents moral support and guidance.
The good news is that parents can choose to change their attitude and work toward cooperation with their children, wherein everyone wins. With a strong desire, any parent can reach this cooperation with a child, to some level, even though it requires lots of patience and kindness.