by Nancy Thomas
Balancing Needs and Wants
My father often used the phrase “Thanks a million!” I was reminded of that recently when I was in Oklahoma City with one of my favorite philosophers, Mary Ellen. She is a wise woman. My very favorite philosopher is, of course, Yoda, but Mary Ellen is a close second. I love to listen to her because she makes me think, and I learn as she speaks. She saved my life one day…but that’s another story. One time she was telling me a story and shared that she had told her child: “I love you enough to give you what you need, not what you want. I will give you what you need so you can get what you want.” Is that perfect!? Those words hit home as the short, clear description I had been looking for for years! When my oldest son, RB, was in high school he wanted to go to a wrestling camp with a star Olympic athlete. It was very expensive. His heart was filled by the opportunity so I wanted him to go. When the neighbor (the gossipy one who shared her opinions loudly) heard that I was “making” my son earn the money for camp she blasted me loudly behind my back. It hurt! My son sweated hard walking behind the lawn mower, raking and edging yards to collect the cash. The entire time the neighborhood whispered about what a wonderful boy he was and what a mean mom I was to make him pay!! I was embarrassed and doubted my decision and considered just paying for the camp to make it easier for my son and myself. I didn’t! RB earned that camp fee! My son grew up to be a winner. My outspoken neighbor’s son future was not as bright. I had given my son what he needed so he could get what he wanted.
Making Children Happy
I am proud to share about my son, RB. He was Marine of the year in 1997 with over 8000 others in the competition. He was offered a spot in Officers Candidate School and was a super star there! My son started out a Private and is now a Lieutenant Colonel. He has worked very hard reaching for goals and doing A+ work. My son is happy!
I work with so many parents who have worked super hard to make their children happy. They are doing it backwards! They give them what they want instead of what they need. These are the most angry, hateful, fussy, whining children I work with EVER! They firmly believe it is parents’ JOB to make them happy! If they are not happy, the parents are not doing their job and the complaints are flowing heavily!
Are You Doing it Right?
Not sure if you are doing it right? The child will quickly tell you! If your child has ever said to you: “I am bored”, it means they think you are their entertainment chairman instead of Mom or Dad! It’s not too late! Just change the way you respond.
The response with an emotionally disturbed child is WAY more effective when we use action not words. Bessel van der Kolk found, with his research, that a trauma-effected brain shuts down the language centers when an emotion happens. Well that’s most of the time with our challenging children!! So what action works to get this kind of derailed relationship on the right track? When a child complains of boredom give them something they need, not want. I like to give floor scrubbing practice or window washing lessons. I teach my children HOW to give. Every time they are defiant, destructive or disrespectful I have them give an act of kindness. I do this using our Brain Based Behavior Interventions (3BI). If you want to know how to use this powerful program check out my webinar here. The reviews have been terrific because it works!
Here is a link to a free 5 minute film I did with my Cowboy on teaching children a loving way to give an act of kindness to balance an act of rudeness. When your child is done be sure to say: “Thanks a million!”
Keep your sunny side up!
We can make a difference, Nancy