As parents part of our job description is to facilitate change for our children as they move through their developmental stages. It starts around one year old when you want to wean them from breastfeeding and from night feeding; and in some cases to move them into their own cribs. It continues with weaning them from their soother, to moving them to a big bed, toilet training and so on….
As our children continue to age and develop, our expectations of them change as well. Our expecations may include being more independent and responsible (organizing their rooms, clearing the table etc…) and we want to introduce these and other expecations to our growing children. Remember, these expecations have to do with our values which we wish to instil in our children.
The challenge with change in general is that our natural inclination as human beings is to resist change, as it is better for us to stay with known reality then to cope with an unknown future. This challenge is even harder when it has to do with facilitating change for another person.
This is the reason why so many parents struggle with and at times fail in sustaining the desired goal/change in their children; the resistance is too great for them and they give in after just a few tries.
The classic example is when a mom asked me how to make her three old daughter not come to her bed in the middle night any more.
When parents come to me with questions and concerns like this one I don’t give advice as to what they should or should not do, nor do I give them a winning strategy. Rather, I ask them three fundamental questions which when the answer to them all is “yes”, then as a parent they can facilitate any desired change:
1. Are you 100% sure that you want the change to happen?
Are you sure you want your child to give up her soother, not come to your bed anymore, reduce his screen time? The key word here is 100%. You must be fully and completely determined to make the change happen and to reject the existing reality in the same manner. Coming back to our example, as a parent you want to be in a place where you are fully and completely ok with your child not coming to your bed anymore (it seems funny but a lot of parents actually like it).
2. Are you willing to pay a short-term price in order to achieve a long-term goal?
The parents in the above example can’t sustain the change because every time they try to keep their child in her own bed she starts to cry and she wakes up her siblings. The parents don’t want to cope with two other children in the middle of the night so they give in.
If they would be willing to pay a short term price, which may mean that the entire family will be awake for a few nights until the child learns that there is no way she will be going to her parents bed, then after a few sleepless nights a new routine will be in place. Consequently, everybody will benefit from that and will sleep better.
3. Are both parents on the same page?
This is highly important as children use the gap between the parent’s views to their own advantages. You can read more abut it here
Only when you answer these three questions positively fully and completely then you can see results with your children and you can sustain the change you are so hoping for.