I once said (OK, I have said it hundreds of time) that kids believe everything you tell them. The younger they are, the truer this statement is. Parents do not know they are lucky that their young kids do not question them as much as they should.
In fact, because kids do not doubt what their parents say, I would like to encourage all the parents reading this post to take advantage of this phenomenon and plant good thoughts and beliefs in your kids’ little minds. So if you are a parent and you want to learn how to plant good thoughts in your children’s mind, buckle up and enjoy the ride.
6 things kids never argue with
- “That’s the law” – The younger kids are, the less they understand what “law” means, but they perceive it as an external, uncontrollable source of power. I do not know any kid in the world who goes to check the law to find out if it is true that kids cannot sit in the front seat. When I tell my kids to buckle up because it is the law, it leaves no room for argument (of course, I need to buckle up because it is the law too). Explaining the real reason to use a seat belt may be beyond their ability to understand, so I try once or twice, but when I cannot convince them, I say “That’s the law”. It is just like saying “No room for bargaining”.
A word of caution: Do not make it look like you are a victim of some silly law, because that will damage your image. I try as much as I can to support the law by explaining why it is a good law and if we happen to talk about a law I disagree with, I explain the origin of the law and say it is a shame it is not updated, but its origin was the benefit of society.
- Another version of “the law” is “It’s not allowed”. It is funny, but when you say something is not allowed, kids never ask “Says who?” (although maybe they should). Again, this redirects the tension away from you towards other sources. In the library, it is not allowed to run around and talk loudly. On the bus, it is not allowed to put your hands outside the window. At home, you can say “It is not allowed to swear in this house”, “This food is not allowed in our house” or “Nobody is allowed to watch this kind of movies in our house”. Although I am the reason for this, when the tension is high, when I say “it is not allowed”, kids do not argue.A word of caution: You can only use this trick on young kids. A teenager will not be impressed with it at all. Permissions are at the heart of conflicts between parents and teens and they will sniff you out in a flash.
- Yet another version is “We have a rule”. Kids (and too many grownups) do not argue with “rules”. You can say “We have a rule in our house that we kiss before bedtime” or “We have a rule in our house that we talk nicely to each other”. I use the “I have a rule” even in my interaction with other people. When I am invited to a meeting during dinnertime, I always say, “I have a rule of eating with my family” and people do not argue.A word of advice: The “rule” technique requires some thinking and deciding about your philosophy and the rules and boundaries you would like to set for your kids. It is a good idea to discuss what is important to you together with your partner and agree on the “rules”. This technique works on kids of all ages. The more you state your “rules”, the more your kids will believe them.
- “It’s not for sale” is another good trick. Young kids want to buy everything they see and it can be very hard for parents to say “No” over and over again. This trick works best with kids under the age of 6 and probably not for everything, but when you go shopping and your kids want to buy half of what they see, say “It’s only a decoration. It’s not for sale”. Sometimes it works.
- When you go to the supermarket and the “It’s not for sale” does not work, because buying is the only thing you can do at a supermarket, you can say “it’s not on the list”. Smart kids may eventually add their items to the shopping list for next time, but “for some reason” they usually forget they just “had to have that thing” the second you get out of the supermarket.
- “The doctor said” also works well with young kids. Some people are sources of authority for your kids. When you find who they are, you can say things on their behalf, like “The dentist said you need to brush your teeth twice a day”. My youngest daughter likes to use regular tooth brush, but I prefer that she use a motorized brush, because it cleans better, so I say “The doctor said you should use your electric tooth brush” (which he did!). When my kids need some extra motivation, I say “Your teacher said you are a great helper and you need to work on your handwriting” or “The music teacher said you need to practice every day” (I do not need to say it often, because my kids love to practice, lucky me!). You can use this technique after coming from a meeting with teachers, doctors, coaches and so on.
Remember, kids believe everything you say. Watch your words and use the ones you think they will not argue with. If you feel like you are manipulating your own kids, welcome to the parenting business!