I dont know the full news story, but I saw the Wright Stuff talking about a Mum who couldn’t get her 3yr old out of the park, so threatened to pop her balloon. Apparently the daughter immediately got off the swing. But the Mum was also seriously told off by other parents who said that she will have permanently scared her child’s life by doing it!
What do you think? Would you walk up to a parent in a park and tell them off for their techniques? Has someone done that to you? Is it going too far to threaten to pop a balloon?
My answer is as always going to be based on common sense, and practicality, which is it depends on the child and the situation.
If that balloon was the most important thing in that child’s life and they valued it incredibly highly, then yes, it was probably quite a cruel suggestion, a bit like if I threatened to put spiderman in the bin. However, if it was a fleeting attraction, and the child was fully aware that there are more balloons, then it was a just a sensible application of consequences and boundaries to the child; a bit like me threatening that there would be no 10 minutes of ‘strictly come dancing’ before bed!
I totally think that with kids ‘what comes around goes around’. So bully them and treat them with disrespect, and expect them to do so back to you very quickly. So whatever method you decide to use to get them to do something, you are best off being respectful. BUT! That doesn’t mean you can’t be forceful, and have clear boundaries.
I have no idea how the Mum in the park did the balloon popping threat. However, if she had attempted to get her ‘little darling’ out of the park with normal methods like, “We need to leave the park in 5 mins”, followed up by “Time to leave”, and then when she was resistant “If we don’t leave the park now we will be <fill in consequence etc late, unable to do something etc>”. Then I can totally see why she would then have resorted to an offer of a stronger consequence. Plus it worked ;o)
If she was at her whits end, shouting at her ‘little darling’ and aggressively threatened to pop the balloon, without much attempt to find alternative means, then yes, this might not be the most ‘ideal’ option. But none of us know whether she was sleep deprived, handling huge stresses at home, or generally just at the end of her tether. I don’t know any Mum who hasn’t been there! So no, it might not have been ‘ideal’, but heh, it was all she could come up with at that time. From the perspective of ‘permanently damaging’ her daughter, then there will be some ramifications if she continued to behave like that for a long number of months. But I’m not one for agreeing with ‘permanent damage’. If I can work with people who were abused physically/sexually as children and quickly help them to move on, with great empowered lives, that have no ‘ruin’ in their past, then there is no reason ever for a child to be ‘permanently damaged’. Don’t fall for our general tendency to victimise people for life in the moment in the UK, it’s really not the best option for these so called ‘victims’.
I’m quite surprised at the behaviour of the parents who tackled this mum in the park. It’s either come from a genuine concern, in which case, good on them, because loads of us are parallised by being politically correct. However, I suspect it came from a self-righteousness, and lack of empathy, which is a terrible shame. As parents, we have a difficult enough job as it is (whilst also being joyful), without turning on each other. Do you know what I can promise you about those parents? If they were that enraged by it, I can be 100% sure that it was because it reminded them of something that they have done somewhere in life, or know they could do, and the reflection of someone else doing it, made them feel terribly guilty and hence lash out at this Mum.
I’m kind of in the middle road between the people who think that you should only ever ‘negotiate’ with a child and those who think that you should always rule the roost.
I’m a proponent for finding out the values of the people who are important in your life (I teach how to do it on my workshop and have blogged about it before), and then talking in their ‘language’. Which could be termed ‘negotiating’, expect for the fact that I also underline the importance of any option working for both parties, whereas for some people ‘negotiating’ suggests that the children have the main control in the situation. Like I said before, this is the most respectful way to deal with your kids (and anyone else for that matter). HOWEVER! All kids need boundaries. So sometimes it is talking in their values and best interests to teach them that there are consequences for our actions. If there are no boundaries then we get a pile of spoilt, demanding kids, who will struggle with adapting to ‘real life’ as they grow up. (Obviously the boundaries need to be relevant to the child’s age and maturity). With no boundaries, at the very worst we get a pile of kids with no financial sense, all wanting to become famous, probably bullying people left right and centre. It can even get to the point that they have very little appreciation for what they get in life, so they either end up treating everyone in their lives like dirt, and becoming physically or emotionally destructive. I saw an example of this in the park this week. A little boy systematically spat at, kicked, pushed & called my little boy names, and his Mum did little about it. He wasn’t a ‘contented’ child! When later one of her group pointed out to her the behaviour and she therefore tackled it, her child mixed with the other children much more happily. He actually needed and wanted the guidance on boundaries. (I have another blog enroute about bullying, so you’ll find out how come I didn’t step in soon!).
Anyway, I’m off to pick up my ‘little darling’ now from nursery, so gotta end there. I’d love to know what do you think?