The way many of us were raised involved fear and threats usually topped off with a tiny sprinkle of shame to make sure we turned out o.k.
This was the dominant parenting model used to raise respectable children to fit into American society.
Our parents were just following protocol and doing the best they could with the information they had.
“What is wrong with you?” “What were you thinking?” “If you do that again…” “Do you really need to eat that. Haven’t you had enough.” “You will not speak to me like that. Next time, I will wash your mouth out with soap.”
Maybe you laughingly remember some of these methods from your own childhood and find yourself saying, “I see absolutely nothing wrong. I turned out fine”.
Or maybe you belong to the old school of thought that believes fear is the only effective motivator in raising decent kids?
Fear tactics always begin with the child feeling frightened and end with them feeling inadequate and disconnected from us.
Fear tactics always involve some form of violence…violent words, actions and/or thoughts.
In the short term, the results may reflect begrudging cooperation from your kids through fear based parenting.
But what about the long term effects and results?
Isn’t the point to raise future adults that have high self worth and are intrinsically motivated to do the right thing?
News flash: Fear sabotages intrinsic motivation.
When humans experience fear, the survival part of our brains come online and our stress hormones skyrocket.
The “flight/fight/freeze” survival response is only meant to protect us during short periods of time…like when we are faced with immediate danger and we need more strength to fight or speed to run.
When is the survival response helpful?
Think about protecting yourself when we were primitive cave people facing a predator in the jungle or in today’s world, coming face to face with a criminal in a dark alley.
Relying on fear tactics to manage our kids, simulates situations where their survival responses kick in and stress hormones flood their brains and bodies.
It is unhealthy for humans to spend too much time in a survival state involving heightened stress hormones.
Weight gain, anxiety and hindered learning as well as other negative side effects result.
The thing is, fear and threats can be effective in the short term to gain compliance from your kids.
Scream at your kids and they may clean their rooms especially if they worry that a smack or punishment might be coming their way if they don’t comply.
However, what happens when you aren’t around and your kid is away at camp or college?
Do they keep their stuff tidy because they have been feared by you to do so?
Or do they do the exact opposite of whatever it is that would please the person who screamed and scared the shit out of them?
What if we could teach our kiddos to live in a “responsible” manner because it reflects self respect, self worth and appreciation for the things you have rather than behaving in a certain manner to please us?
And they actually cooperated and we got total buy in from our kids without ever resorting to threats, bribes or fear tactics?
The new conscious parenting perspective achieves this.
All you have to do is begin and your kids will quickly get onboard.
The best place to start being the positive CEO of your family is to train yourself how to communicate assertively not aggressively with your kiddos.
Change happens when you take baby steps rather than attempting sweeping strides.
Some practical assertive language tools are coming your way in the coming weeks.
It will affect all of your relationships positively.
Put one foot in front of the other and begin taking your baby steps.
You have the power to begin making changes today and creating the connected family you crave.
If you decide it’s worth it to take a tiny step, feel free to reach out to me for encouragement, support and/or accountability.