It is so very, very easy and simple to get youths to cooperate. You just: ask them to do something in a calm way and deliver a consequence in a self-assured manner that will feel a little depriving to them if they don’t respond. That is the formula and it is no more complicated than that.
OK, seriously now, why is something so seemingly easy, so hard to actually do? Well, what makes the above formula effective, is the part about remaining calm and confident. Here are some of the problems that mothers face which can severely erode any calm, confidence or pleasantness.
Problem 1: Children Seem To Have Lost Their Hearing
Particularly when mothers seem to be at their most harried, children can appear to lose their sense of hearing. Even if the children seem to have registered a request, mothers often find out that they really haven’t heard a thing.
This problem is very distressing to mothers. Nobody lies to talk into thin air. After asking for something a couple of times, some mothers may get edgy. Sometimes, a mother’s edginess may set in at the mere thought of asking her children for something.
When a mother gets edgy, of course, the hearing loss problem gets quite exacerbated. This is why mothers may resort to yelling; they are trying to break through the catch-22 cycle of edginess and hearing loss.
People feel sorry for children who get yelled at. They look at agitated mothers as if they are so terrible for screaming or yelling. Mothers get a lot of lectures about how they should act better, and they don’t get a whole lot of understanding.
Ironically, when a mother feels understood, she doesn’t think of herself as such a terrible person, and she can forgive herself. Then, she may even become more interested in creative ideas. Such as which consequences will work best to magically restore the children’s hearing at a moment’s notice at little cost to the mother’s sense of calm.
Problem 2: Children Reach New Heights of Whining and Complaining
When a mother who has a chore list two miles long, asks her children to do something, they often whine and complain about it. This makes a mother feel very alone. A mother wants to be loved, not neglected and defied.
Children who have loving mothers, however, feel they can express their feelings to them. Again, it is a terrible freak of nature that a neurologically intact mother is expected to respond to the complaining by simply ignoring it when she can actually feel quite hurt, angry and agitated about it.
Problem 3: Child Too-Tired Syndrome
When children are too tired, a mother, of course, has to cut them some slack and ease off on the demands. Differentiating between the whining-and-complaining child who should nevertheless do their job and a too-tired child who should be allowed to rest requires a Ph.D. in mothering. The Ph.D. degree, by the way, is never actually awarded. Your child’s happiness and success is your reward.
Problem 4: Unconflicted Husband Syndrome
As far as many husbands are concerned, getting children to cooperate is very easy. You simply ask them to do something and they do it; what’s the problem? Most men do not struggle as much with hurt, disappointment, conflict and second-guessing themselves. Boy, are they lucky.
Unconflicted fathers can make some mothers mad, because it’s just not fair. Fathers should struggle and be tortured by how, when and why children cooperate, just as much as mothers are.
Some mothers criticize their husbands to make up for the imbalance, hoping that their husbands may start to analyze themselves more and also work on becoming the perfect parent. Men, of course, don’t like to be criticized, so they withdraw. These women are now stuck with uncooperative children and withdrawn husbands.
Again, it is neurologically mind-boggling how a woman’s negativity, in light of her husband’s unconflicted position, must somehow take a back seat to fully appreciating him. Appreciating a husband, when he seems so unconflicted, is hard work, but the rewards are priceless.
Problem 5: Busy, Busy, Busy
Mothers do not seem to be programmed to think about themselves automatically. The last thing on a mother’s list, I have found, is taking care of herself. Two extremely popular responses to a busy schedule are: 1) Get it done. Which is stressful. 2) Don’t get it done. Which generates guilt or shame. It is a much more difficult for women to consider not getting absolutely everything done and having some relaxing fun, and then feeling confident about the decisions.
Mothers who stroll through their days mixing in a lot of guilt-free moments of enjoyment, often have to work hard at it. The more natural response to tension is just to feel tense. Scheduling unconflicted pleasure can be hard work, but it is the most important work of all, for the entire family. Pleasant moments must absolutely, unequivocally, no matter what, take first place. Overcoming any obstacles to doing this have to take first priority. If not, getting children to cooperate can become downright painful.
Conclusion: Getting children to cooperate requires coming to terms with tensions aroused by a wide variety of problems. How each woman deals with tension best is unique to her. Some women succeed in releasing tension by talking and complaining.
Others try to stay relaxed so they can better absorb the tensions. Both methods work. The possibilities are endlessly creative for what works. But the main thing to consider is this: children may never become fully cooperative with their mothers and mothers may not always be able to remain consistently pleasant and confident. The real question may then be this: what will help each mother best to live happily in this oh, so imperfect life?