Your Child is a Terrorist!
Yep! You read that correctly. Little Johnny is an asshole and you know it. Here's the deal, it does not have to be this way!
I know, I know... you've tried everything.
Timeouts do nothing, spankings just piss him off, and groundings add proverbial "levels" to his terrorist activity. You spend most of your day "getting by" and hoping no one notices.
A-hem. I noticed.
...and I'm NOT mad at you. I'm not even mad at Little Johnny. The reality is, you don't know, what you don't know, and "supposed" experts with their Harvard-born parenting advice are morons most of the time.
You could be thinking, "Well, what makes you so special to give me parenting advice?" Three reasons:
1) I'm willing to look you in the eye and tell you your child is an asshole. Everyone else is just talking about you behind your back.
2) I have eight kids. Each and every one of them has tried out "asshole" status multiple times and my firstborn wrote the dang book on how to perfect it. *Spoiler Alert - he's the coolest "kid" now. He's 21, but will always be my "kid".
3) The experts have convinced you, your child is a rational human being, so treat him rationally.
What a load of crap!
Your child is absolutely, positively, NOT a rational human being! In fact, neither are you! Neither am I! And neither is anyone else drawing breath today.
Human beings are NOT rational. We are primal emotional and every decision we make is 100% based on emotions.
The car you just bought...based on emotions. The bite of food you just ate...based on emotions. The tv series you just started...based on emotions. Oh sure, you applied logic to validate your emotions, but it was the emotion that brought you to buy the car, eat a bite of food, or binge-watch the tv series.
I can hear the tomatoes flying through the air aimed right at my head. Bring it. I'll make salsa, you bring the chips, and let's continue to rip the bandaid off, stat!
"Johnny, eat your green beans." Johnny then flips his plate, forces his chair backward so abruptly, you now have a dent in the wall, and then proceeds to scream like a pissed-off orangutan who had his banana stolen.
Johnny is not a rational being.
That or similar situation has already happened twice in your home today and it's just after coffee o'clock.
Your statement, "Johnny, eat your green beans" is a very simple directive. You didn't even try to rationalize with him, "Johnny eat your green beans, so your body will be healthy." But his response went straight to irrational. Why?
The human mind is controlled by two systems. System 1 is fast and emotional. System 2 is slow and rational. Johnny responded purely with System 1. System 1 is dominant, you have to expertly dismantle System 1 if you ever hope to engage System 2.
Your child is a terrorist and you must become an expert hostage negotiator with bomb dismantling expertise.
So, what would have happened had you started off with a rational directive, "Johnny, eat your green beans, so your body will be healthy." The result would have been the same because eating green beans on an emotional level is the most heinous thing he could possibly think of doing.
He feels hatred toward those slimy green slugs. He feels injustice at being asked to do something he'd rather toss against the wall to see if they stick. He feels super annoyed you had the audacity to even ask!
If he was a rational human being, he would have sat stoically in his chair calculating the pros and cons of eating a green bean, and then rationalized his most recent green bean consumption to determine if now was an ideal time to consume one more green vegetable.
I feel like I can end right here, but that wouldn't help you turn Johnny from terrorist to terrific. Let me show you how to get past System 1 and into System 2. Because let's face it, what mother doesn't want their child sitting thoughtfully and stoically in their chair at dinner time?
Rule #1 Never Ask a Terrorist if He Wants to Behave!
We've all seen this tactic before, and if you're like me, you're inwardly screaming, "Jesus take the wheel. She just committed a deadly sin." "Johnny, it's bedtime. Do you want to get ready for bed?"
I think I just threw up in my mouth.
Rationally, he gently explains, "Why no mother dearest. I'm trying to decide between rolling out the Play-Doh one more time or ramming this tiny chunk into my nose. So now isn't a great time, please call back later." <---sarcasm, some people have to have it pointed out. What did you think he was going to say?!
What really happened...he told you to "eff" off in perfect terrorist vernacular, with the most pitch-perfect shrill complete with snot-covered Play-Dog flying through the air.
So, please, sweet, tired, "will someone please make the madness stop" Mama, never ask your terrorist to behave. Instead...
Tell him what's about to happen and then give him a choice that leads to obedience!
"Johnny, it's bedtime. Would you like to hop up the stairs like a bunny or would you rather stomp like a dinosaur?"
"Johnny, it's time to go home. Would you like to push the button to unlock the doors or race me to the van?" Older children, but younger than teens....
"Johnny, it's time for the bedtime routine. After you put your pj's on would you like to read a book to yourself or have me read from our chapter book?"
"Johnny, it's time to go home. Would you like to help bring the stuff to the car or be the one who packs the trunk?" "Johnny it's time to do your homework. Would you like to work for 30 minutes until the timer goes off or work until a subject is finished?" Your terrorist is now feeling empowered. That's the high-frequency emotion of empowerment versus the low-frequency emotion of frustration or anger.
"Johnny, it's time for dinner. Would you like a big serving or a small serving of green beans?"
Okay, okay, that last one hasn't convinced you...I'm sure of it. Hear me out...Remember, I have eight terrorists of my own and it works on all but two when they are given a choice and neither options are fab in their opinion.
Let's call these types of children "Super Terrorists". They would make Mrs. Doubtfire rethink her purpose and the Super Nanny would just call in dead.
This method will still work...But you have to "prime the pump" first.
Rule #2 Give the Terrorist a Heads Up
"Johnny, I'm about to ask you a question and you probably won't like the options."
End your sentence with a downward tone, speak slowly, and then pause. This is key. You're waiting for verbal or body language resignation for what's about to happen.
You see, to a super terrorist, you forced him to the emotional reaction of curiosity. And no matter what his emotions were before that moment, he is going nuts inside wondering what the hell could be so bad.
Then in your perfect poised and calm demeanor you finish with, "It's time for dinner. Would you like a big serving or a small serving of green beans?"
You just disarmed the super terrorist, his mind went to a far worse scenario than a choice between a large or small portion of green slugs.
Now, to be clear, curiosity isn't exactly a high-frequency emotion, it's more in the middle. So, if you know the question you're about to ask will cause your Super Terrorist to have a full-blown meltdown who would literally rather die than choose between those two options, you may have to...
#3 Level the Boom, Before the Squirmish
"Johnny, I'm about to ask you a question and I'm almost positive you will not like the options. There will be discipline if you do not choose between the two options I give you, but I know I can trust you. Let me know when you are ready."
Again, long pause and wait for the resignation. Let's unpack this, there's a lot going on here.
"Johnny, I'm about to ask you a question and I'm almost positive you will not like the options" puts him emotionally curious.
"There will be discipline if you do not choose between the two options I give you," alerts him to the seriousness of this question, and now he's emotionally concerned about the potential impending doom.
"But I know I can trust you." You got his attention with the previous two statements, now it's time to raise his emotional frequency.
Trust is a high-frequency feeling. Trust is not a fact, it is only a feeling.
To prove my point, think of your bestie. You trust her, right? If you had an emergency, you know you could pick up your cell phone, tap that speed dial button, and she would bend over backward to help you out. But you also know that sometimes late at night when the roads are completely empty, she has been known to run a stop sign or two.
Of all the people you know and trust, each and every one of them has done something bonehead, but you still trust them.
Trust is a feeling and it's not even really "earned". We've all been introduced to a complete stranger and after a few moments thought "I feel like I can trust her." Then with reckless abandon, you proceed to verbally vomit some of your juiciest life secrets.
Total sidenote - tell your child you trust them before they act. "I know I can trust you to make a good choice" or "I trust you to complete the assignment." Tell your child every day, you trust him. The end result will be a child who believes (feels) he's trustworthy. I could write a whole book on this topic. So, I will leave it here...for now.
Let's continue to unpack this...
"Let me know when you are ready," lets your Super Terrorist feel like he's in control. While control is a lower-frequency emotion, it's still going to work wonders on his mind and emotions. Terrorists love to feel in control and Super Terrorists are no exception to the rule.
His emotional System 1 is feeling curious, slightly terrified, trustworthy, and in control.
He may very well whine, "But Mom, I hate green beans." Acknowledge his feelings by slowly and resolutely saying, "I know you do. That's why I gave you the choice. A choice needs to be made, what's it going to be?"
End the last sentence with a downward tone of voice, slowly...eeking...out...every...word.
Do not yield. Do not argue even if he tries to jump to that classic terrorist trick. Hold the line.
Stare directly into his soul and remain silent.
By now your super terrorist has either crapped his pants and is willingly ready to comply or he's made the poor decision to take this to the next level.
For most of you, you have a "crappy" super terrorist, so we will end here today. For the very small percentage of you who have a child who frequently pushes every button and rams his way through every rule, stay tuned...
P.S. I seriously do not know a single kid named Johnny, so if your child is named Johnny or a variation of that name, I am so sorry! I meant no offense!
P.P.S. If you truly want to level up your terrorist negotiating skills I highly recommend the book, "Never Split the Difference" by Chris Voss. Chris Voss is an FBI terrorist hostage negotiator. Think this through...he gets really bad guys to give up the hostages and surrender themselves. Apply his wisdom to parenting and you become a Jedi Master. Click HERE to grab your copy from Amazon today.