Turn Your Head Away

Turn Your Head Away
Turn Your Head Away

Turn your head away:  This power action is usually only needed with younger children, but the older ones still respond to it as well.  Let’s say a kid keeps repeating the same question over and over.  Suppose I either can’t redirect, he won’t listen to my answer, or I can’t get a word in edgewise to actually answer the question.  At that point, I turn my head away. I deliberately look in the opposite direction and give him the back of my head.  Doing so removes my attention and gets him to pause and think, “What is she doing?”  Once I get him to pause, I will turn back and regain eye contact.  Then I can use a power phrase  or address it however I feel is appropriate.

Sometimes drama takes over and a child will start ranting about one nonsensical thing or another.  By golly, they want to go to a movie and you are going to take them!  Or they want to get a BB gun and hate you because you keep refusing.  When the talk becomes ridiculous, out of control, hateful, or disrespectful, turn your head away.  Do not engage.  You can stay there with your head facing the opposite direction, or you can turn your entire body.  You can even walk away.  Once they pause the nonsense, I’d resume eye contact and quietly ask, “Are you ready to calm down and use polite language?”

This works the best when they actually want your attention, help, or action. It lets them know that you will not respond until they approach you appropriately.  However, you can also use this technique when you are trying to get their attention and they blow up.  But before you walk off, make sure that isn’t exactly what the kid wants!  He can’t have ANY part of an “I want” like “I want to keep watching this show,” or “I’m not finished making these bracelets.” Unplug the television, take away the bracelet beads or craft material, whatever.  Just make sure that if the child is yelling at you so you’ll go away, don’t leave under the circumstances that he wants.  Look at the WHY to avoid reinforcing the yelling.

Take it Away:  With more severe behavior, you may have to hit the reset button and take away the source of the problem.  Then make your child earn it back.  For instance, if the television (shows, games, etc.) is causing grief and the kid is sucked so far in that only his feet are left sticking out of the screen, the darn TV needs to go.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve got conference calls out the wazoo and the television keeps the child occupied.  Nor does it matter if your child loves the TV so much that you’ve christened it as part of the family.  You have an enormous problem if your child throws a temper tantrum when interrupted, or you can’t drag their crazed eyes from the screen when you need their attention.

You might look at this as a consequence and punishment, but it’s really not.  It’s going back to square one, resetting, and reestablishing the fact that you have to earn things in life.  When you give and give and give, it teaches children that things are handed to them on a silver platter.  And I KNOW you know that’s not true. I’m guessing you’ve worked your butt off your entire life, just like the rest of us. When was the last time you saw a silver platter float your way for no reason at all? Never, right?  Well, think about the lesson you are teaching your child.  Of course you want them to have fun stuff and be happy, but by giving so much and spoiling, we hurt our children.

Yes, I said hurt. We are neglecting their needs. Children need to learn how the world really works, yet we teach them that they don’t have to lift a finger and “poof” they still get games, phones, clothes, electronics, bikes, food. . . everything they want.  When they make a mess in the kitchen, the harder choice for us is to make them stop what they are doing and get their ‘tush’ in there to clean it up.  Sure, it would be faster if you did it yourself.  You may not even mind cleaning it up.  So what’s the problem?  The problem is that they’ll hit college or the job market with a serious sense of entitlement, no skills, no character, no motivation, no work ethic, and no clue how to take care of themselves.   

Wake up and smell the coffee!!  Just giving a child everything creates a spoiled, unproductive, helpless person, with no sense of self or place in the world.  Lost!  Such kids have needs that misguided parents neglect to meet.  Children must learn to EARN respect, earn their way, and earn the extras they want.  As hard a lesson as this is, it’s your job to teach them.  And I don’t mean, “Here, dust this table and you can have your game.”  I mean, “We’re getting a chore chart in place.  When you show me you can complete all of your chores on time, without complaining, for one week, then you earn thirty minutes of television a day.  But as soon as you slip on the chart, the TV is gone.”   

My own kids have a chore chart in our home.  They know they must complete daily responsibilities before even asking me to watch TV, play on the computer, or pop in the latest shoot-em-up game.  Get your stuff done, or don’t bother asking if your friend can come over.  Those are the rules.  There may be sighs here and there, but they have never once given me a “but” over it.  They feel secure with the rules and my consistency.