The Repeated Argument
Why do we keep having the same arguments over and over again?
Even if the daily fight (about mealtime, bedtime, bath or TV) is painful, at least we know how it turns out.
We step onto the dance floor, invite our child to dance, ‘Time for a bath okay?’ and he does his move, ‘I hate baths…’ and then, the tantrum. Your turn: drag him to the tub or talk about it for 10 minutes before giving in. Same dance every night. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Here are four tips on staying off the ‘dance floor’.
- Focus on your long-term family goal ‘ Your son has a bath every night without a fight.
- Decide how your child will have some control ‘ Move bath time earlier when everyone is less tired; let him set a timer 10 minutes before bath so he tells you it’s time for his bath, etc.
- Set out exactly what is required at bath time and who will do each task ‘ Tasks could include checking water temperature, adding more hot or cold water, choosing toys, what gets washed, which towel to use afterwards, etc.
- Teach your son the new plan ‘ For kids two and under, talk it through with them, using photos or drawings of the steps and make a book; for three and older, involve your kids in creating the written plan.
In either case, give your child a new script to work with and know what you will say to cue him and tell him what his lines are too. So the conversation looks more like this:
Son: ‘The timer means I have to get in the bath and then we can read books after I dry off.’
Or you: ‘The timer is ringing’what does that mean?’
The important thing is to immediately move into the new plan rather than worry if the dialogue has gone exactly as planned’ACT don’t YAK!
It is much easier to respond with respect when we know exactly what is expected, as well as how we will respond when it works and when it doesn’t.