Every day, millions of parents across the world undermine themselves and then complain that their kids don’t listen to them. We’ve all been guilty of dishing out empty threats. But our lying and fear-based attempts at teaching our kids aren’t only doing us an injustice; they’re creating problems for our kids as well.
Empty threats all parents make
Santa will put you on his naughty list, and you’ll never get a present again.
The police will come and arrest you if you keep up with this behaviour.
When dad finds out about this, you’ll be in some serious trouble!
The first two examples aren’t even true. Not even remotely. Aside from the fact that you’re telling your kid that he or she has someone else to listen to (instead of you), you’re also LYING. It won’t be long before your kiddo figures out that you’re pretty much a sack of lies. Which is NOT what you want. You’re teaching your kids to be afraid of some wonderful things in this life, and you’re also teaching them that your words don’t really mean anything.
Why empty threats don’t work
Constantly threatening your kid with the other parent leads to two problems. One is that you’ll always be passing the buck. The other problem is that you’re creating a scenario where your kid doesn’t have to listen to you because you have no power, authority, or credibility.
The reasons why parents give empty threats is perfectly understandable; it’s just not smart. Empty threats somehow make life easier. They make it easy to scare kids into submission, which is easier than getting them to listen to you.
But do you want to teach your kids to be fearful, or do you want to teach them that your word carries a lot of weight and that you mean whatever you say?
The problem with empty threats is that they are short-lived. They last for as long as the moment does. When you keep making empty threats, your expectations, authority, and your rules all shrink in value. Essentially, empty threats set you (and your kids) up for serious failure.
Do yourself a favour and stop beating around the bush. Get real with your kids and set solid, consistent consequences for rude and unwanted behaviour. It’s the easiest and fastest way they’ll learn that your word is final and that rules are there for a reason.