If you and I were having a conversation and you said something that made me very angry and I said “That’s it! I have had it! I am sending you to jail.” What would you think? Other than thinking I had totally lost my mind, you would immediately dismiss what I said no matter how angry I appeared.
Now let’s say for some reason you find yourself in front of a judge and he told you “You are going to jail!” You completely believe him, right? Well the difference is authority. You know he has the authority to make it happen.
The same principle applies to your children, no matter what the age. If children do not think you are able to enforce what you say, then you have no authority and become just a crazy person that they don’t take seriously. You must be a person of your word. Learn to say it once and then make it happen. If you can’t make it happen–then don’t say it.
For example, you want a toddler to quit messing with the TV. You calmly yet firmly say “Don’t touch the TV” then move the child away so they don’t have access to the TV and keep them away. You have enforced your word the first time without yelling or anger. When you tell your 4 year old to pick up the toys, you stand there with him until they are picked up and if he refuses you put your hand on his and guide him to pick up the toy calmly and gently and place it in the box. You said it only once then you enforced it without yelling or anger. You tell the 16 year old driving teenager you want them home by 9pm. If they are not home on time the next few trips out you drive them and pick them up yourself and get them home on time. You set a rule and you calmly enforced it. This works at any age.
So I bet you think I was a saintly mother raising my daughters, right? LOL! Like many of you, when I was raising my daughters, I was tired all the time, playing catch up every day and I found myself angry, yelling, and repeating myself all the time. Why? Because I did not have the insights I do now since working with thousands of parents over the years, and therefore, I had not taken the time from the beginning to be a mom of my word and enforce everything I said. Had I done that it would have saved the Boyle household much angst. (But that is another story for another time.) Now this endeavor will take all the energy you have to give but it will provide the greatest return on investment ever. You children will believe your words, find comfort in your predictability and learn the great life lessons of accountability and authority.