You naturally want your kids to lead pleasurable, happy lives and have fun, but it’s also important that kids recognize that getting their way every time they want something won’t always happen. Whenever there’s more than one person involved in a relationship or situation, there is the potential for either conflicting desires and also compromise.
Conflicts and compromise are a normal part of relationships and conflicts can actually help kids to learn more about themselves. Conflicts can help children decide what’s most important in their lives. Learning to compromise also helps them to consider what other people believe is important and can lead to seeing other’s perspectives. This process allows your kids to grow and evolve in any relationship.
You can teach your kids how to work through potential conflicts, so they become win-win situations by being willing to negotiate. It’s a wonderful skill to have, whether in business relationships, friendships or in romantic ones.
When a conflict arises between you and your children, at times you may be tempted to give them an ultimatum, a consequence of what will come if they don’t do what is asked. Parents aren’t the only ones who give ultimatums, but as a parent you can help your son or daughter to understand when it’s appropriate and fair to issue one. As long as you are aware when the time is right to give a ‘do it or else’ type of command.
It can be challenging when someone gives commands or assignments you don’t agree with, especially if you feel you aren’t in a position to ask for any concessions. As much as you might want to ignore it, you know there are going to be instances when you aren’t able to.
In your children’s lives, there will be teachers, bosses, friends and even significant others who, at one time or another, will expect something that they may not want to give them.
Generally, someone makes an ultimatum after repeated requests go unanswered or ignored and they become frustrated by the situation. This may be the why, but it shouldn’t be the when.
So when is it appropriate to give an ultimatum?
~ After you’ve cooled down and feel more in alignment.
Take a minute to breathe, calm down and clear your head, even if it means leaving the room.
~ When you’re able to hear your son or daughter’s view point.
This may mean listening to them before giving an ultimatum, and possibly changing your mind as a result. It also means listening to your children after you’ve made your decision. They may have an idea about what appropriate consequences would be and you may be surprised to learn that sometimes your kids are harder on themselves than you are.
~ When you have taken the time to weigh your options.
Tap into your Internal Guidance System (IGS) to help determine what feels right. You might be guided to give specific consequences or even to take a different tack with your children.
~ If the consequences warrant it.
By consequences, I mean the consequences of their actions, not your ‘or else’ punishment. For example, if they’re acting in a reckless or dangerous way, you may choose to give an ultimatum even if this it is not a behavior that is normal for them.
~ When you can clearly state your expectation and the consequences for not living up to this expectation.
Make certain your expectation is reasonable and that your children have the opportunity and ability to live up to it.
While you may believe you’ll never be in the position to give your kids an ultimatum, it happens, and it isn’t inherently a negative thing. By being reasonable about requests and having the consequences be appropriate for the circumstances, you teach your children that their actions impact others as well, and justice can indeed be fair.
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© 2015. Sharon Ballantine. All Rights Reserved.