The Two Questions Every parent should ask their child
In my recent mokuso we discussed the three muscles necessary to developing discipline in your child, the struggle muscle, the repetition muscle and the delayed gratification muscle.
Let’s finish by discussing the final pieces to teaching your child patience and developing their delayed gratification muscle.
To do this we need to put the focus on your child learning to do things that are boring, or don’t necessarily interest them, followed by teaching you, the parents, two powerful parenting questions you should be asking their child…..a lot!
It has been said by many that in today’s instant gratification world, that young people have developed an attitude of entitlement and impatience. Is it any wonder when it seems like children can get everything and anything they want almost instantaneously?
While technology has certainly made our lives easier, I believe it has also removed much of the process, and it’s in this “process” we learn delayed gratification (patience), hard work, and discipline….It’s learned in the doing…It’s learned in the struggle. That is the process.
In our technologically advanced, “fast-food” world it seems we rarely have to wait for anything, and therefore aren’t developing the skills necessary to process boredom, and learn delayed gratification. No wonder our children get frustrated so easily and quit at the first sign of resistance?
Here is a very simple way for you to put the priceless experience of boredom and delayed gratification back into your child’s daily life. Just learn then practice using these two simple questions every chance you get.
Make your child wait for everything by asking these two very powerful yet simple questions:
1. Can you wait a second please?
2. Can you do this first please?”
When your child wants to interrupt you, they want something, or they want your attention, and as long as it is not an emergency, make your automatic response “Can you wait a second please?” Then, especially at first, come right back to them 5-10 seconds later with something like “Oh “Timmy” thank you for waiting so patiently. What was it you wanted?” Later, as you use this more and they get better, make the waiting period longer. Make it a practice to stop giving them what they want right away!
Also, know that boredom teaches three very valuable skills lacking in young children today: curiosity, creativity and most of all, resourcefulness!
Now, to how to apply the second powerful parenting question. Whenever your child wants or asks to do something they want to do, ask them to do something else first.
Make it simple and easy in the beginning. For example, if they want to leave the dinner table early to get back to watching a video say “Okay, but can you help me clear the table and put the dishes in the dishwasher first please?” Or, if they want to play their video game you can say “Sure, but can you give the cat some water and food first please?”
Later, as they become accustomed to this delay and request to do something less appealing, you can up the ante. When they want to play outside in the nicer weather with friends you can say “
Okay, but can you do your 30 minutes of reading (or help me tidy up the living room first?”
Try it. Then practice it. These two parenting question will make your child stronger every time you use them. They will learn to wait and to do things they do not want to do.
Don’t give your child what they want. Give them what they need.
Can you just imagine your child doing both the second you ask them and without hesitation?