It started out so simply’you asked your child to get out of the pool. They screamed, ‘NO!’ and an entire pool crowd is suddenly silent and staring at you. Now what? Do you go in and get them? Do you walk away and hope that they’ll come out after you? Or do hope that tomorrow will be better?
Tomorrow will only be better if you have a new plan. Many kids have learned that if they make a loud enough fuss when out in public, they can manipulate their parents into pretty much anything. When parents give in, kids learn that the manipulation works.
To stop the manipulation, you both need a firm idea of what will happen at the end of pool time. Here’s one version of how that can work.
- I will let you know when you have a short time left in the pool (with young children this might mean 3 more times down the slide or 2 more laps of swimming.). I will count down the slides with you. Then I will say, ‘Please get out of the pool.’
- You will come down the slide and say, ‘Ok’ or, ‘I wish I could stay longer, but OK’. This shows me that you can be responsible and that you would like to come back tomorrow.
- If you choose to whine or if you don’t get out of the pool, I will take you out of the pool and you are choosing not to come back to the pool tomorrow.
- Now please tell me what is going to happen at the end of the swim, and what will happen if you don’t get out of the pool.
Your child may try to manipulate you again. You now have a clear plan’no second guessing yourself, no yelling. Just get into the pool, get them out and skip the pool the next day (their choice). They’ll be ready to try again after that. Stick to your plan and you’ll never throw in the towel again.
Image of kids in pool from Shutterstock.