When You Should Back Down
Ever feel like you've gone too far? Or that the situation is actually different than you first assumed? Backing down is an option at times, but only with a lot of thought and a good explanation to your child.
Let's say your daughter broke a rule that is near and dear to you, and while it may not have been the worst thing any child has ever done, you went overboard in your reaction and punishment. How can a parent back down without losing respect? It comes down to a well-mixed cocktail of honesty and cooperation. Let's say you threw the dreaded “You cannot go to (major life event inserted here) now!” line. A day later, you're remorseful. Your daughter's crime didn't match that and anyway, missing that event will tint her history forever. After getting agreement from your spouse (and only if you get that agreement), have a formal sit-down with your daughter and talk the situation, including your overreaction, through from beginning to end.
Rational discussions and agreed upon conclusions after a blowout can actually teach your child how to work and act in the world in general. This lesson is a good one.
Be sure to point out why you were upset, and what she did to raise your anger. Then, put it on the table. You should not have gone as far as you did, and you want her to attend the event. Can she help you come up with a just punishment that will help her to learn and you to feel like you're getting through to her? You might be surprised at her response. Often, by this point, girls know they've done wrong and actually want to make amends.
What if you've laid down a punishment and a day later, your daughter comes to you with a reasonable argument as to why it is unjust? Mind you, if she's just whining “It's not fair!” you can stop the conversation right there. But if she has a good, solid reason why you need to rethink your decision, its vital for you to do so. Think of it this way: not all criminals are made to serve time. You live in a society where admission of guilt coupled with remorse mean something. But, you'll need to make sure your daughter understands one simple thing: the crime can never be repeated again. You also need to point out to her the process you have just gone through with her. You used reason, listening skill and then, in the end, compromise. If she can learn to trust herself to use those skills before committing an unallowed act, she might find herself in the hot seat less often, and you may find less of a need to punish her.