• As I’m waiting for my daughter at her gymnastics practice, along with 12 other parents in the confines of a small and stuffy waiting room, I’m distracted by a screaming 6 year-old child sitting directly behind me. “GIVE ME A DOLLAR FOR THE MACHINE,” was all he kept yelling in between sighs and fake tears. He wanted to play the metal claw game so he could win a stuffed animal. His father tried to ignore him and unconvincingly responded, “Not now!” The child kept whining and screaming, “I WANT IT NOW!” And, guess what? His father broke down and gave him a dollar.

    …the child got so out of control that he hit another kid sitting next to him and staring at him…

    Less than two minutes later the child came back with no prize in hand, of course, and started his whining all over again. I was so annoyed that I was ready to give him a dollar just to have some quiet for two minutes. The kid kept crying and upped the ante by slapping his father on the face. He’d already learned that if he whined long enough then he’ll eventually get what he wants and I’m sure it’s not the first time. But now he was making all of us miserable. Through all the stares and dirty looks, the child got so out of control that he hit another kid sitting next to him and staring at him, at which point his father had to lift him and drag him out of the facility, literally kicking and screaming.

    Often times, in order to not let things get out of hand as depicted in this scenario, most parents have a general rule to NEVER give in. I get it, because it’s bad on so many levels. Besides lacking consistency and giving up control, you’re reinforcing bad behavior. That means you can bet that it’s going to happen again. However, there are times when it is appropriate to give in or retract a decision you have made. I know it’s hard to believe, but the fact is that even parents are humans and sometimes (I emphasize the word sometimes) can be wrong. I know it’s shocking!

    When there’s a decision in which I’m conflicted, like the time I didn’t allow my daughter to go on her 8th grade trip, because it was in another state, what swayed me to reverse my decision was her mature and logical approach to presenting her arguments. She asked to speak to me in private and started with, “Look I know that whining and crying over this isn’t going to convince you to change your mind and wouldn’t be appropriate…” I knew I was in trouble from that introduction alone. Someone had taught this girl some sick negotiation skills. She was right! The whining and inappropriate behavior would never get rewarded. At her tender age of thirteen she was articulate and able to address my concerns of safety and let me know that this was a one-time opportunity that she would always regret missing. Without any games or outward manipulation, though I know I got taken, she made me feel at ease that she would be okay and knew exactly what to do if there was a problem. Once my concerns were addressed, I wanted to reward her maturity, responsibility and tact in handling disappointments. So, I let her go. I’m such a sucker! However, once I was confident that she could make good choices, I felt compelled to let her make her own decisions. What else could we ask of our children?