It seems that just about every family has at least one child who spends most of his time trying to figure out what others want.. so that he can do exactly the opposite.
Frustrated by their testy behavior, it’s pretty darn easy to fall into less than effective parenting practices. I hear some of these at the grocery store:
“If you’re really good, then I’ll buy you a candy bar.”
“If you don’t stop that, then you’re going right to your room when we get home!”
When parents are unsuccessful with strong-willed kids it’s frequently because they’ve issued an “if-then.” When their spirited kids hear this, they think, “Now the fight’s on! I’ll show them!”
Ironically, stubborn kids are willing to receive consequences.. and miss out on rewards.. if it means winning a control battle.
When rewards come as a surprise to kids, they have no opportunity to sabotage themselves before they receive them. When we avoid warning them of specific consequences in advance, they spend less time fighting us and trying to figure out how to find the “loop holes” in our plans.