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Threatening And Blackmailing Your Child

5 min read

Blackmailing your child
As a parent, you are soft to your heart’s core when it comes to your kids. We politely request our little ones to comply and gently coax them, which mostly fails to obtain any result. Done with the resources you are caught unaware as to what to do so that your kid will abide you and then you resort to threatening. “Finish the milk or else I will return the toy to the shopkeeper” or “If you finish the milk, I will give you a chocolate” – threatening to take away privileges or rewarding. We have said it all, but is the correct lesson of parenting?

  • Line Between Rewarding and Blackmailing/Threatening
  • Threatening Your Kids
  • Does Blackmailing Work?
  • Tips To Stop Threatening and Blackmailing Children
  • Cause and Effect Relationships

Line Between Rewarding and Blackmailing/Threatening

Now, there is a thin line between rewarding a child or something that he has done or achieved, and blackmailing him to do something. Parenting largely involves teaching kids consequences of their actions, but when parents feel the child is not listening or understanding, they resort to blackmailing. However, some may argue that when you make your child do something for “your” gain, then it could be called as ‘blackmailing’, which will not be the case. When a child does not listen, and his actions can have grim consequences, a parent may actually fall for a lucrative option of ‘blackmailing’. When that does not work, parents resort to unreasonable threats as well. “Stop fighting or I will not let you watch TV for 5 days!” Really? Is it even tangible?

Threatening Your Kids

Irrational threats of taking away toys, or swapping the child with some one else etc. do qualify as blackmailing and poor parenting traits. In fits of anger, parents seem to hurl and pass on absurd and inane threats which even parents cannot stick to! If you are to carry a punishment make sure you can follow through it. You have already bought the toy, you really think you will go as far as returning it? No. If you do say something about a consequence and a penalty, make sure that your children believe you and take your words seriously. Idle threats and promises will only make your child loose his trust in you, and he will not obey you. This is indeed a negative pattern of ineffective parenting and has reasonable consequences.

Does Blackmailing Work?

Your kid for certain knows that you are definitely not taking the hassle of going back to the shop to return the used toy. So your threat of taking away the toy meets deaf ears and he continues to misbehave. Such irrational threats are more dangerous because kids know that you are never going to do it per se. Remember, children don’t think about consequences which are due after ages, for example a movie on Sunday which is in question of cancellation. They probably are more interested in immediate consequences.
Blackmailing children
On the other hand, you are coaxing the child to finish milk so as to receive a chocolate. In this way, you are simply conditioning your little one with the fact that in order to obtain a chocolate he must finish milk and that’s it! Task done! Milk finished! This makes you happy, woohoo task accomplished, but you might be incorrectly reinforcing your child’s mind to believe that he must get something in order to follow the instructions. This is bad in long run!

Tips To Stop Threatening and Blackmailing Children

  1. Establish the authority: Your kids should respect and take your words seriously. Do not give in to their tantrums or emotional blackmail. Your NO means no! Be firm on this
  2. Devise rules and expectations: Create home rules such as meals should be eaten only on the table or TV should be watched only for two hours. Explain them clearly to your kid, if necessary stick those up in his room. Never relent these rules otherwise your kid may overpower you. Consistency is the key
  3. Involve family: It’s imperative to explain the game plan to other elders of the family. Explain them that the rules should not be flexible and are essential to handle the child’s behavior
  4. Stop yelling: Your screaming might momentarily catch your kid’s attention, but it’s negative effects outweigh. For instance: he has been jumping on the leather couches trying to imitate the superman, rather than yelling from the kitchen to stop it, approach your kid, have his attention and communicate face to face.
  5. Time out: When he breaks the rule, instead of delivering threats immediately, which is the instant response. Step away from the situation and then later talk to him about his misbehavior. You are more likely to rant inane consequence which you may never fulfillThreatening a child
  6. Effective disciplining strategies: Adopt effective disciplining strategies and if necessary consult a child psychologist or behaviorist
  7. Ditch the silent treatment: It’s obvious that you are hurt, exhausted and are so much angry that you prefer to go mum. However, this silence may not put across the correct message across rather make him uncomfortable. Spell it out to your kid. Tell him that we won’t speak unless he completes the task in hand
  8. Speak smart: Phrases such as “this is the last time…, Once again if you do it…” lack credibility. Whatever is out of your mouth should be serious and kids should believe it. Don’t roll out words such as “One more sound or else I will lock you in the bathroom” because sometimes your little one may dare you to do it. And when you don’t, you lose the credibility you won’t be taken seriously
  9. Stick to your threat: Let your kid stay in the highchair until he finishes the food, he will wail, cry, shout, sleep, wake up again wail but ultimately give in. Probably this was not worth much the circus, but he learnt a lesson that you are the authority and you can do so again
  10. Blend positive reinforcements with negative consequences: Tip your kid with unexpected goodies for appropriate behavior, but be consistent in delivering negative consequences as promised

Cause and Effect Relationships

Toddlers are particularly fussy eaters and this results in a whole lot of drama during meal times. Don’t yell on your kid, approach him calmly. Rather say, “you need finish the milk by the count of three or you will be choosing to lose the toy”. This gives him time to reason and then be firm on the said consequence. Remember that this outcome should be attainable. Also, the child is free to choose what he wants: do the thing in hand, or face the consequence.
Try presenting your kid with two bowls of spinach, one with cottage cheese and corn other the plain one and let him decide which one he wants to have. Sometimes he may not be hungry and would want to eat later, be consistent here – present the same food which was served in dinner. Otherwise, he will form a habit of delaying his dinner and getting favourite snacks instead.
Your kid learns the valuable cause and effect relationship. He would eventually learn that his actions have consequences and it’s up to him to choose. Follow the above measures and there will be hardly any need of manipulating kids with threats or bribery. Rest assured, you won’t later wail your hands in the air as to why the kids like this!

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