When Kids Leave You Speechless

It was Mark Twain who said,

“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in just seven short years!”

But what do you do with kids in the meantime?  One of the things I’ve learned is to practice the art of going “brain dead”.  What is that?  Let me explain.  Kids of all ages are debate masters when it comes to verbally  manipulating adults.  Here’s how it works – they suck you into an argument, twist everything you say to their own benefit, eventually tire you out, and ultimately get their own way, leaving you standing there speechless.  I’ve seen it happen again and again.  Instead, do the following: as soon as you sense them approaching to get you into a word tussle, say to yourself, – “Do not think. Do not think.  Just reply with sad one-liners.”

Here’s an example.  Every adult has heard this one, “That’s not fair!”  It is a favourite one of kids because it works so often for them.  Here’s how to handle it.

Child:  “It’s not fair that I can’t go to the party.”
Adult:  “I know”  (say in a soft tone of voice)

. . . . .
Child:  “But all the other kids are going.”
Adult:  “I know.”  (say still in a soft tone)

Child:  “I’m the only one who isn’t going to be there.”
Adult:  “I know.”

Child:  “You are ruining my social life.”
Adult:  “I know.  If it helps, you can
tell them that it is my fault.

Child:  “Well, it is your fault.”
Adult:  “I know”

Child:  “Everyone will think I’m a dork.”
Adult:  “I know.”

Child:  “You don’t love me.”  (now turning up the heat)
Adult:  “Nice try.”  (say with a slight smile)

Child: “You’re mean, I hate you!”
Adult: “I know.”

And so on…

Now answer the following – Who is forced to do most of the thinking in this interaction?  The child.  Who is likely to give out first in this scenario?  The child.  Who is learning that manipulation doesn’t work?  The child.  And who has come out the winner without ever: breaking a sweat, losing their cool, raIsing their voice, racking their brain, or resorting to threats?  The adult!
The above is from,  When Kids Leave You Speechless.  It’s a book that contains twenty-one of the things children most often say to get their own way and the one-line responses adults can use in effective reply.

P.S.  It also works in marriage, but that’s another story!