Make Good Choices! Persuasive Parenting 101
Every parent wants the best for their children. During our children’s early years, we take charge of their decisions, and are thus always able to ensure they are moving in the right direction.
As our children become teenagers, our ability to make decisions for them is diminished. This is, primarily, a good thing: your child beginning to grow into their own mind, which is a necessary component of growing up.
However, as they grow into themselves, you may find yourself caught in a challenging situation. You want your child to make good choices, but for the most part, teenagers simply aren’t capable of this. You don’t want to overrule your child’s burgeoning autonomy, but you don’t want them to have to deal with the consequences of a poor decision either— so what can you do to address these two, seemingly diametrically opposed, desires?
The answer is to master the art of persuasive parenting; here’s a few techniques that you’re going to want to keep in mind…
1) Postpone rather than refuse
Let’s say that your child has decided they wish to pursue a career you don’t believe to be viable. You may be tempted to insist that this is not the right choice for them and actively encourage them towards a more beneficial route.
However, the above is likely to cause arguments, so opt to postpone rather than outright refuse. In this example, that could mean agreeing that you’ll support their career goals— but you need them to get their GED first. The technique is the same no matter what they are contemplating; just seek to delay the decision for as long as possible. Hopefully, with the passage of time, they’ll soon realize their decision isn’t workable, and they will seek more workable alternatives.
2) Be subtle
Let’s say that your child has decided they want to ride a motorcycle. While your instinctive reaction may be to panic and blanket ban the idea, this is a little too overt.
Instead, be subtle. Ask them what they have done to learn about the realities of their idea. Have they, for example, looked into the safety records of motorcycles? If not, you could encourage them to view more online statistics about motorcycle crashes, or ask them to create a budget to meet the running costs of such a vehicle. The same applies to other scenarios, too; opt to ask your child to dig deeper into the details.
The benefit of this technique is that it isn’t an outright “no”. Instead, it makes it seem like you’re engaging with the idea, even when you’re actually just trying to provide the information they need to see why the decision is a poor one.
3) Ask for a contribution
If all else fails, ask for a contribution to making their idea a reality. This could involve asking them to earn funds to buy the motorcycle themselves, or help more with chores to show they have the dedication to commit their spare time to pursue an unrealistic career goal. As these examples show, you’re looking for a contribution that is significant and requires particular effort on your child’s part.
This technique actually combines both of the above options into one, neat package. It’s not an outright “no” and it delays the decision. Hopefully, this two-pronged approach will succeed where the individual approaches failed!
With persuasive parenting as described above, you can exert some control and guidance, while still ensuring that your child feels they have control over their own destiny.