“I’m serious! If you don’t [fill in the blank], then [fill in the blank].”

Do you ever find yourself saying stuff like this to your kids? “If you don’t pick up your toys, then I’m throwing them all away.” OrIf you can’t be nice to your brothers and sisters then we aren’t eating dessert for a week!” Or something along these lines? I do. I say stuff like this all the time, ultimatums are what they really are and I am trying to use less of them.

It’s gotten to the point that my kids usually wait for the “then…” and judge to see if the consequence is worth it. A lot of time it’s not. They have figured out I probably won’t throw all their toys away and that I will get distracted and not even manage to throw one of their toys away.

That’s not how I want my kids to be. That’s not the kind of mom I want to be. If I really need them to accomplish a task or help me with something, I just need them to do it.

Here are few simple things I have brainstormed, so far, to improve my parenting:

1. AWARENESS – Realize when I am doing this.  Am I tired?  Are the kids tired?  Is there a pattern?  Is it a specific time of day?

2. CUT IT SHORT – I still need to communicate the task to be done, but I leave off the part where I give the ultimatum. “You need to go pick up your toys.”  

3. SHOW SOME COMPASSION – Sometimes I have to bring my attention back to the fact that I may not really want to do the task I am asking of them either. That’s when we often that have the brief lectures about “How we are a team and everyone needs to help get things done.”  Hopefully, it will sink in eventually.

There are often times that I truly could help them more. Yes, they made the giant Lego mess on the living room floor, but it might be nice if I helped the kids clean them up.

4. RE-EVALUATE AND BE REALISTIC – There must be reason I feel I need to attach this ultimatum.  Do I really need them accomplish this? Are they the right person for the job? Is there a compromise? Am I looking for more for the completion of a task or an attitude change?

It may be time for me to dig out and reread Parenting with Love and Logic. Oooh, I just noticed there is a Parenting Teens with Love and Logic. Has anyone read that one? I don’t struggle as much with my older kids, but I still think I’ll be checking that one out.

(Side note: the best parenting book I have EVER read was The Happiest Baby on the Block, but it truly is just about taking care of your newborn, so it wouldn’t pertain to much for me right now.)

(Side-side note: I did not find The Happiest Toddler on the Block to be very beneficial. I don’t even think I finished reading it.)

I would love to hear some of your good ideas.  I’m always looking for fresh ideas.  Share in the comments section below.

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