Good Parenting: Why Threats Don’t Work

11 Jun 2015

“You better do your homework or else!”

“If you don’t get yourself into the car you are punished for life!”

“You better march yourself into Mark’s room and apologize for calling him names or you can forget about going to Sara’s birthday party!”

Does this sound familiar? Parents often resort to using threats with their children because they don’t know what else to do to get their children to listen. The problem with threats is that some children feel frightened, vulnerable and diminished. Other children become angry and oppositional.

In their book “Liberated Parents, Liberated Children,” Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish say, “A threat is in reality an irresistible challenge for the children to do that which has been forbidden, in order to find out if the parent means business.”

Either way, there are other more respectful ways then threats to get your kids to listen and cooperate:

When/then statements:

“When your homework is done then you can watch T.V. time.”

Give information:
“All children who want to come back to the park tomorrow need to get in the car now. I will be so sad if we can’t come back to the park because children aren’t listening.”

Use the word “After”:
After you figure out a way to help Mark feel better, I will take you to Sara’s birthday party.

Threatening kids creates tension and power struggles. Finding creative ways to avoid using threats will be a boon to your relationship with your child.

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.