Three reasons threats don’t work as a motivation strategy

· You might think to yourself; threats never did me any harm when I stepped out line. So what's the big problem? The thing is, threats work in the here and now but don't give you what you ultimately yearn for ·

Date
Feb, 06, 2021
I think very few parents can say they’ve never given a threat when faced with a child who just WILL NOT listen. After all, most of us were raised in this way. “Do this..or…”

‘Threat’ may sound like an exaggeration to you. But if a friend or your partner talked to you in this way in order to get you to stop you from doing something or getting you to come – you would no doubt feel you were being threatened. 

You may embrace the ideas of the more modern parenting paradigm that has come about as a result of now knowing a lot more about children’s social and emotional development. But you may think to yourself; what’s the trouble with threats? They didn’t do me any harm. 

3 reasons threats don’t give you what you ultimately want

1.  When you threaten someone – be it a child or an adult – the natural instinct is to defy. We do this to self-protect – as a way of guarding our dignity. When we use threats as a way to ‘motivate’ our child – we may get what we want in the here and now – but in the long term your child’s resentment towards you will increase and power struggles will be frequent. 

2. Threats work. Especially if we threaten to take away things our child cares about; treats, screen privileges or play dates. Yet, the thing that motivates your child to listen when he’s 5 – (e.g. not giving him desert) will not work when he’s 15, towering over you, more articulate and free to leave. For threats to work – they have to tap into something our child cares about. 

A way that children harden themselves to our threats is by telling us “I don’t care”. Few of us want our children not to care. We want to raise empathic human beings who dare to care. 

3. Ultimately -when we threaten our child we tell them not to respect us – but respect our threats. If you don’t respect me – at least you can respect that I have the power to take things away from you. This never increases respect. Because when we demand respect in disrespectful ways we get just that. Less respect. In a way it is simple: Meet your child with the qualities you would like for them to embody. And while it might be simple. It isn’t always easy.

With me by your side you will have the support we all need when we doubt ourselves and don’t know what to do or say for the best. Through parent coaching you will get to connect with the part of you that is not triggered and can take over when you find yourself blinded by anger in the face of your child’s behaviour. You will grow a deeper understanding of your child’s perspective and become clear on your own boundaries and learn to communicate these in ways that feel respectful for you and your child.


Put simply, parent coaching is an investment in your family’s wellbeing

Louise Brooks

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