Expert Parenting Advice
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A silent epidemic of family break-ups

Why using force or punishment to get your kids to cooperate leads to more bad behavior.

This morning I learned a shocking statistics while reading Psychology Today:

Over 1 in 4 Americans are currently estranged from a family member.

That means a quarter of people in America have at least one family member they are not talking to, and have no contact with.

Then I found an article on, stating that estrangement between parents and their adult children seems to be on the rise. In fact, therapists are calling it a silent epidemic of family break-ups.

When you have young kids, it is easy to take them for granted. It is easy to take our connection with them for granted. It is easy to forget that you only have a little time to really connect with them, to build those strong relationships and connections that will last you for the rest of your lives.

When our kids misbehave or don't want to cooperate, we focus on the short term and try to force - threats, yelling, or punishment - to get them to cooperate, without thinking about what we are teaching them when we do this.

The problem with that is that each time you use force or punishment - blaming, shaming, or pain - you damage your connection with your child.

It might work to get them to cooperate in the short term, but in the long term it leads to a break-down in your relationship, a lack of trust, and more bad behavior.

If this continues, you end up with adult children that resent you and their childhood.

Instead, it is important to remember that in the long term our goal is not to teach our children to blindly obey, but rather to teach them how to be well-rounded adults.

This does not mean that you don't enforce boundaries.

Dr. Chelsey Hauge-Zavaleta, founder of Positive Parenthood and Guiding Cooperation, explained it like this:

You can hold just as firm of a boundary with positive language as you can with threats, or with consequences, or anything like that.

So, I want to make sure that I’m always asking “What does this child need in order to move more easily through the morning? What kinds of experiences do they need?”

Not, “What kinds of consequences do they need to get out the door?” I’m just asking myself “Why this?”, and “Why right now?”, and “What do they actually need?”

Dr. Chelsey Hauge-Zavaleta

In my interview with Dr. Chelsey, she explains what to do instead of threats or consequences to get your child to cooperate, and a simple technique that you can use to deal with bad behavior without making your child feel bad.

You can find the full interview with Dr. Chelsey Hauge-Zavaleta - How to use “Recasting” to correct your child’s behavior in a positive way - in our ebook How To Get Kids To Listen, available for free download here.