I love talking to parents about their different parenting techniques, including ones that I never thought or heard of, but they have found to be effective. In the course of many years, I have gathered many different ideas, but the best ones are sometimes kind of silly and full of humor. So in honor of Adar, here are some quirky and fun parenting tips that actually work:
My friend, Seth, calls his technique slav parenting. Slav is the Hebrew word for quail. When the Jewish people were in the desert, they often complained about not having water, or food and finally meat. G-d frustrated with their complaints, finally sends hordes of quail their way. At first our ancestors were glad and ate their fill, but soon the excess gets to them. They become sick of the quail. Lesson learned: There can be too much of a good thing.
When Seth’s kids ask if they can have something, he tries to always say ‘yes’ even if he wants to say ‘No.’ His son decided when he was around 8 years old that he was only going to eat chocolate. He and his wife said, “Fine! No problem.” They then proceeded to give him chocolate for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They didn’t say a word. (Saying, “Well here’s your chocolate, I wonder how long you are going to eat this before you get sick of it,” defeats the whole purpose!) After 2 days of eating chocolate, he was obviously tired of chocolate and wanted to go back to his regular fare. Again, they said nothing, no “See, I told you so, etc.” She just went back to serving him his regular food. The best lessons are of course are silent (and maybe also full of chocolate!)
My friend Michaela coined this term. This technique is used for a child who likes to argue with their parents, drawing them into a power struggle. The reason they do this? Either they are a very independent child, they like action, they are bored or they don’t know appropriate ways to gain their parents attention.
Unfortunately, Michaela and her husband always seemed to fall for this ploy.
For example when their son, Benny, was taking too long in the bathroom and his brother needed it, he starting taking an extra long time to brush his teeth. When confronted, he said, “Well, I am not leaving the bathroom! I can stay in as long as I want!” In return, Michaela, said, “Oh yes, you will! It’s not nice you need to share! Your brother needs the bathroom.” The fight was on. Eventually, when Michaela got Benny out of the bathroom, and she felt she had technically “won” the battle, deep down she knew she had lost. Lost energy, loss of confidence, loss of dignity and a lost temper.
Instead, after speaking to a therapist, she employed zombie parenting. The next time, Benny wouldn’t relinquish the bathroom, Michaela said, “Benny, your brother, Eli, would like a turn in the bathroom.” Benny returned with his typical, “Well, I am not leaving the bathroom! I can stay in as long as I want!” Michaela, remained expressionless, zombie like and said calmly “That is true, you can stay in there as long as you want.” She turned to Eli and said, “Come and use my bathroom.” She did not take part in her cycle of the power struggle, she cut the arguing short and had taken the wind out of Benny’s sails. After a few days of zombie parenting, peace reigned again in her household.
Talking to The Wall Parenting:
I got this from Tehila Friedman in an article she wrote for Mishpacha magazine. She uses the ‘Talking to the Wall’ technique that was inspired by her and her sibling’s childish antics. In order to annoy each other and not get in trouble they would talk to the wall. For example, “Wall, I wish Chani would stop breathing so loudly.” Or “Wall, do you know Rikki is such a baby, she cries over every little pinch.” When their mother would admonish them, they would just say, “Just talking to the wall, Mom!”
She decided to use it with her kids, but with a grown up twist. To stop the fighting she would turn to the nearest wall and say, “Wall, I wish this fight would end. I hate when my children hit each other.” To convince a recalcitrant child to take a bath, she would say, “I’m sorry Wall. I also wish no one had to take a bath ever. Unfortunately, in this house, girls who have spent the afternoon in a sand park don’t really have a choice about a bath.”
Strangely it worked, at times it made her kids laugh and at times, because she wasn’t talking directly to her children, they actually were able to listen. I give it an A+ for creativity.
Drama Queen Parenting:
This is a great one; that I have used many times. When my children ask for something in an impolite way, like, “I want my sandwich now!” I restate their request with an “Oh boy! I wish I was asked like this: Mommy, dear, who I love so much! Who has made me the most delicious sandwich, can I have it pretty please?” This usually gets a laugh and a sheepish, “Can I please have my sandwich?” Whatever the reason, it works.
So, there you have it four quirky parenting tips to add to your toolbox!
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.