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The Power of “Shutup!” | The Family Podcast Network

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Oct 17

The Power of “Shutup!”

 

It is not an uncommon practice in American parenting to use the popular "shut up" with our kids. I could not honestly sit in front of you and tell you that I have not felt the desire to look at my whining son who is getting irrationally upset with something so trivial that I want to fire off a quick "dude! Shut up!" So lets address this parental adaptation and the effects is has on our kids and us as parents.


Imagine you arrive at work after a horrible morning with your kids and/or spouse. You walk in and they say the ever-classic "good morning" to your boss. You begin to rattle off your rants and raves and effectively use your superior as a sounding board for things that have built up and caused you great distress. You begin to notice some funny body language in this boss but continue since you have built up a significant amount of frustration. Finally, with very little notice, they snap and say "good lord! Would you just shut up!"


I want you to imagine the feelings that reaction would produce. What would you think? What would you say and most importantly, how would you feel? Now I understand that there are those of you that would say "I would be fine" or "I wouldn't care" but I will venture to say that those are few and far between. My feelings would be hurt. I might feel a little bit of fear and possibly start to get angry. My thoughts might include "well you're an insensitive jerk-wad" and "you really do not care about me personally."


Our children feel absolutely no differently than we do on these matters. Kids experience hurt when their parents say these things. I have had parents reflect that their kids "don't really seem to care that much when I say it" but trust me. I have sat in on the sessions, I have talked to the kids and heard the pains they are often to hurt or to hardened to reveal.

But that is really only half of my concern on this matter. This is a question that you will see me reiterate over and over in these posts. Who is watching you to learn everything they are going to do in their lives? That's right, your kids. If they see you do it I will guarantee you one of two things (but more than likely both). They will either use the same tactic on you one day and what parent wants to hear our children yell "SHUT UP" at us right? Oh! Uh uh! But fundamentally, they are just doing what they've seen mommy and daddy do. The double edged sword slices both directions remember?

Secondly, if they do not turn it on you...maybe out of fear of the consequences...guess who they will use it on. Probably someone like their teachers, and inevitably, those dastardly calls come from the principal letting you know what your kiddo did that day.


Bottom line, the use of shut up, while it is admittedly sooooo, so tempting, will not end well for us parents. I strongly encourage you to avoid it at all costs. So lets talk about some things to do alternatively:


1. Access your empathy side as much as possible. Though the fact that not getting to play Wii right at that moment may not be a big deal to you, it could be huge to a 4 year old. Having a cell phone might not be a big concern for us adults, but to a teen it could feel like social-suicide. Remember what it was like when you were their age. Things like that sucked for us too!


2. Don't be afraid to go and cool off. I never encourage a family to not work out an issue and just bury the hatchet. All issues absolutely need to be addressed or they will build up and pop in what I call an emotional IED at a later date typically. But a quick cool down of walking out of the house or even asking the kid for a moment to relax is perfectly acceptable and an excellent model for our kids to see. I understand that as parents, we (oh yeah, myself definitely included) don't always get this right but more on this later).

3. WWF-it. Tag team your spouse. You can always ask if you can trade off. I can sense when my wife is "having enough" of the kiddos and it can typically be a good time to step in.


4. Help your kid pull out of their stall. Try to pull them out by joking with them or with redirection. Sometimes your kiddo will have none-of-it and this strategy is not always effective. But some redirection can be good. If my son is crying about no Wii time, I might remind him that we are having pizza this evening for dinner and all of the sudden...Wii seems so dismal and insignificant!


5. But what if I have already snapped and dropped the SHUT UP bomb? Hey. It's ok. You messed up and welcome, again, to being a parent. Talk to your kids when things are cool. Let them know, just like you would say to them if they told you to shut up, that what you did was "not alright" and apologize to them for messing up. Let them hear you say that it is not ok for mommy or daddy to say it and that you will not say it anymore. Your kids will not expect you to be perfect unless you expect them to be.

Permanent link to this article: http://thefamilypodcastnetwork.com/blog/the-power-of-shutup

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