Expert Parenting Advice
Practical parenting tips and advice from experts around the world

The wrong way to eat ice cream

How to be a more flexible parent, avoid power struggles, and teach your kids how to make better decisions.

Last night, after dinner, we took the kids to McDonalds to get ice cream for dessert.

We sat down to eat our ice cream, and my daughter decided that she wanted to eat her cone from the bottom up.

That looked like a good idea to my son, so both of them started eating their ice cream from the bottom up.

Of course, the problem with eating your ice cream from the bottom up is that you open up a big hole. And then the ice cream starts melting and dripping through that big hole.

Which is exactly what happened...

I could have told them this right from the start, but one thing that I've learned as a parent is to be flexible and pick my battles.

If they want to eat their ice cream from the bottom up, and end up covered in sticky, melting cream...then so be it.

As I watched them both trying to deal with this ticking time bomb of melting ice cream, it reminded me about the interview I recently did with ex-nursery school teacher and parenting coach Naama Cameron.

You see, Naama says that it is much easier for parents to be flexible if they know what their "core rules" are - the things that they are not flexible about.

I tell my families, "You don't have to have 20 rules." In my house, I have my handful of rules. My foundation. And everything else is what I call "negotiable". So the core is not negotiable and it doesn't change. For example, "Don't ever hit me or my husband." " You do have to do your homework." "You have to be respectful to your teachers."

But am I flexible about dessert? Absolutely.

Naama Cameron

The thing is, if your kids want to wear shorts when it is raining outside, or start eating their ice cream from the bottom up, then let them. And then let them experience the natural consequences of that decision.

This works great because it not only prevents power struggles, but it also teaches your kids to think for themselves, and gives them the opportunity to make mistakes while you are still there to protect and support them.

But the trick is that you need to be clear about what your non-negotiable rules are.

In the interview, Naama explains how you can set up and communicate these rules with your family, and why it is so important that everyone in the family is clear on what they are and agree on them.

If you want to learn how to set effective house rules, while being flexible and empowering your kids to make their own choices, then check out the interview I did with Naama Cameron in our ebook How To Get Kids To Listen, available for free download here.