While we don’t need to be severe when we say “no” to our kids, being afraid to disappoint them can cause more harm than good. Ending a sentence with a question mark such as “is that okay, honey?” shows your kids that what matters to you most is that they like you, not that you parent them well.
Not only does your need to be liked give your children power over you, it also makes them feel insecure, because they sense your insecurity. A parent’s inability to set boundaries with ease can lead the children to become tyrants and/or pushovers themselves.
Children need to learn how to be firm and kind at the same time. They learn this by their parents’ example. Simply say in a matter of fact way, “Ice cream is a treat. One is enough.” Finish. No question mark and no hoping that they like your answer.
Ironically, they will like you more if you stop trying to please them, and instead demonstrate how to set boundaries and practice self-discipline in an effortless way.
by Alison Poulsen, PhD