Would You Fall into This Parenting Trap?

This weekend I was at the park with my two daughters while my wife was out for a few hours. The temperature is starting to get warmer in Toronto, but it was still barely above freezing. It was 3 degrees Celcius (37F). I had the girls dressed in winter coats, thin mittens, and thin hats.

It wasn’t the nicest day outside. It was pretty cloudy and wet. Besides us, there was only a father and his two sons at the park. The boys were probably 5 and 7. They were running around and happy.

But I noticed something odd. The younger boy had no coat on. He was running around with a short sleeve shirt and a pair of jogging pants. My assessment is that the father probably realized this was a bad idea. But I’m betting the kid would have thrown a tantrum if the father forced him to keep his coat on. So the father caved, and opted to instead risk his child get sick from exposure to the cold.

I realize that sometimes kids can be a handful. But let’s think about this trade off. Here we have a parent that consciously chose to allow his child to freeze in order to avoid a fight. That’s a bit crazy if you ask me.

Why am I so sure this was the trade-off? Because a few minutes later, after the boys stopped running around, the younger boy sat down on the slide. The slide was wet from the prior night’s rain. His pants got quite wet, and he started to complain. Then he started to cry that he wanted to go home. It was evident to me that this boy used the same tactic to get his Dad to let him take his coat off.

As someone who has studied hypnosis and NLP I’m taught to be observant of physical changes. This boy’s body position had changed and he was visibly cold. His skin color was more pale than a few minutes ago. He was holding his arms close to his body.

Did the father offer his son a coat? No. Instead he just (understandably) complied with the boy’s request to go home. But then the young boy said to his dad, “But I want to come back after I change my pants”. To this, the father said “No – we are going home and we’re staying home”. At this point, the boy’s crying turned from gentle sobbing into all-out screaming.

This was one of those times I wish the father had my audio course. He would have understood that there are easier ways to handle the situation. I always teach parents that saying “No” is a rapport-killer, and amplifies whatever negative state the child is already in. There are better ways to get the kids home without standing in the cold having a debate about whether you’ll all return to he park after changing. It would have been easy for the father to simply shift the conversation away from this debate.

In looking at my traffic on this blog, I see lots of traffic but not enough comments. I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts. What would you have done differently?

Enjoy your children,
Chris Thompson

SEE ALSO: This audio lesson will forever change the way you interact with your kids

4 Responses to Would You Fall into This Parenting Trap?

  1. doris March 19, 2009 at 3:27 pm #

    My son used to do exactly the same but after I took your couse I learned to change the conversation. My son loves it when I ask him to tell me the colours so when for example he’s having a tantrum cause he doesnt want to put the jacket on I ask him what colour is the jacket and then he’ll answer ‘red’ (with a smile on his face! the tantrum is already gone!) and then I’ll shift ‘what colour is the jumper?’ and so on. After a few seconds he’ll forget that he didnt want to put the jacket on. I think the leaving part its a bit harder to do but I think the same technique will help.

  2. Chris Thompson March 20, 2009 at 2:12 pm #

    Hi Doris – Thanks SO much for your amazing email yesterday also. To get him to leave the park you can use yes sets, compliance sets and binds as well, from the first few lessons. You can also set up a reframe *see lesson 8* to change the association he has to leaving the park.

  3. Miki April 14, 2009 at 9:19 am #

    hi
    you asked for comments not just traffic
    i haven’t taken your course.
    i have started changing my behavior – when i lose it – i just say – ok, now do the exact opposite of what you want to do. and i calm down.

    when my 2 yr old is not willing to dress. i try to convince him using his brother – 5 yr old, who is willing to be the example. though i discovered that by putting a small action figure on the zipper and giving the jacket a name – like spiderman or ben10… helped, suddenly it wasn’t a jacket but rather a coat of armor that make him feel special. no more tantrums.
    :-)

  4. Chris Thompson April 27, 2009 at 12:33 am #

    Miki – Absolutely beautiful! What you’ve done is to unconsciously reprogram your 2-year old’s association to getting dressed. You made it fun. There are a million ways to do this and you’ve picked something that works. Well done!

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