My 11-year-old son barely spoke until he was four. Now he’s disruptive and constantly causing problems in social settings. He’s probably ADD, but I don’t want to get a formal diagnosis since I refuse to medicate or label him. I’ve tried every way possible to discipline him, even spanking out of frustration though I’m fundamentally against it. I’m a parent volunteer on a trip to the museum next week per his teacher’s request. I can’t abandon his class by taking him home, or spank him if he misbehaves. He’ll see through my threats. What can I do to get him to fall in line? ~ Fed Up, Oklahoma
Striking isn’t instruction, it’s fear. Fear-based parenting applies negative rather than positive reinforcement. Instead of threatening your son with negative consequences for negative actions, just smile and instruct him on how to behave just before the outing, including that additional instructions may arise during the outing. Ask him if he had any trouble understanding what is expected of him. Give him a hug and a kiss, “Good! If you forget, we will not leave the museum. I will hold your hand the entire time until you remember again.” What 11-year-old wants to be seen holding his mother’s hand during a school outing? If you’re lucky, maybe he’ll hold it anyway. When you become frustrated ask your heart what love would do and wait for an answer. Turn it into a teaching moment for both yourself and your child by tapping into the transformative power of love.
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