What Cues Do You Give Your Children?
An Action Point is the point when you stop talking and start acting or the point when children know you mean business. How do they know? You give them cues and your children know what those cues are. If you’re saying the same thing over and over again, how does your child know when the Action Point is near?
Think back on your own childhood. How did you know when your dad or mom meant business? They might have gotten out of the chair or started moving toward you or given you that look. Maybe they used your middle name or started moving toward the kitchen where that special utensil was kept.
For many parents, angry words or a harsh tone of voice become the cue children look for. Unfortunately, this harshness creates distance in the relationship. Look for ways to tighten your Action Point without anger.
Harshness isn’t necessary but firmness is. Firmness with children is an important part of the teaching process. Some parents associate firmness with an authoritarian style of parenting. And it certainly can be. We’re not suggesting that you become a sergeant with your kids. Even a relational parenting style often requires a point in which that child knows that the discussion is over and it’s time for action.
You might say, “Katie, please turn off the TV now.” The child’s name and the word “now” can become the cues that your Action Point is coming. Or you might preface what you’re going to say with the words, “Katie, look at me. This is an instruction.”
Be careful of multiple warnings as they can weaken the instruction process. One warning may be helpful to make sure the child has understood the instruction but then the next step should be a firm follow through. If you tighten your Action Point and are ready with the follow through, you’ll get angry less often and your children will respond more quickly. Start by clarifying the cues and following through sooner.
This parenting tip is taken from chapter 29 in The Christian Parenting Handbook. This is just one of 50 wise tips and strategies every parent needs!