The best piece of advice I’ve ever received came from my mother. Truthfully, she’s given me tons of advice that I wish I’d followed when I was younger, but one of the pieces of advice that has always stuck with me and I’ve followed it faithfully is to always tell my kid why I want him to do something.
Doing this has created a completely different relationship than he has with other people. When he asks me a question and I tell him no, I always offer an explanation. And it’s always a good and true explanation. “Because I told you so” just doesn’t hold in the kid world. When I tell him to do something that is not the usual chore, I tell him why I need him to do it. It might be as simple as “I’m working on this part of the chore and I need help getting it done before so-and-so comes over.” These explanations tell him that I’m not just using his as a little slave labor. I value his time and his ability to help me accomplish tasks.
Because I’m honest and thoughtful in my explanations, he accepts when I tell him no without an argument. I also make sure that I never tell him no simply because I don’t feel like taking him somewhere or because it doesn’t benefit my plans. It’s also important when I give that in-between answer of “we’ll see” or “maybe” that I there is really a reason that I can’t give an answer now. It might be that we are in the middle of running errands and the timeframes for the rest of the day are unknown. Again, I explain the case.
It’s such a simple piece of advice that my mother gave me years ago, and I’ve followed it religiously. It has never let me down, and it has made life at home so much easier. There are no arguments or slamming of doors simply because my son feels that he didn’t get a fair shake. When I say it, I mean it. That’s how it is, and he’s come to expect it and respect it.