I was in a store recently and I heard a mother fussing with her child. Mom’s attire was professional and since it was 6:00 pm I assumed she was coming from work. The two children had probably spent the day at daycare and Mom was trying to get groceries before hurrying home for supper. The infant sitting in the grocery cart was already dozing off and the walking toddler seemed tired and not in the mood to hurry.
Mom sent a barrage of commands to the toddler, “Stop touching! Don’t stand there! Get over here! Hurry up!”
Of course the tired little toddler resisted. Mom grabbed her hand and said, “I don’t care what you want. Stay with me.”
The child whined, “Why?”
The Mom replied with a four word cuss word…..”Because I say so!”
I cringed. The absolute worst thing you can say to your child is “Because I say so!” This phrase must be labeled as a cuss phrase – it is that offensive to a child’s growth.
Why? It solves nothing!
There are six major reasons why you should never say those words to your child and many other minor reasons.
1. It won’t solve anything. The child will continue to be rebellious and since he doesn’t understand why he needs to conform, he will only get more angry.
2. The child is not prepared for the next similar situation. Since he has not been taught “why” it was important to obey, any time the same situation appears he will react the same way. In other words, he has not been convinced that Mom is right and he should help her. Instead, Mom has made it a fight.
3. The child has not learned how to evaluate a situation based on “truth” or “facts”. He has learned only to respond according to his own personal feelings. This will sustain selfish behavior.
4. The child misses an opportunity to feel important and learn the joy of helping others. We have to be taught to be kind and helpful. When a parent misses the chance to include a child in the solution to the current problem, the child assumes he is not capable of helping others.
5. Most importantly, the child feels like a slave. Slaves are required to obey regardless of their own desires. Their feelings, needs and abilities are not considered or important. “Just shut up and do what I say” is not a proper request of someone that you love and respect. If you want their cooperation, you should ask properly. If You ask properly, it will also reinforce that behavior in your child.
6. This parental cuss word teaches children to be argumentative. Parents who
continually require their children to obey without understanding why, should not
be surprised when those children become teens and insist that their parents “Shut up and leave me alone.” They are only repeating (perhaps in different words) what they have been taught.
So…..how should this Mom have responded?
Mom should have stopped for two minutes to get her toddler on track. Those two minutes would have taken far less time than the argument that continued throughout the entire shopping experience. Let’s call the toddler Susie.
Mom: (Kneeling beside her daughter) “I know how tired you must be. I’m very tired too. I wish we could go home and just chill out. Daddy will be home soon and we have to get some food to eat. I don’t have anything at home to fix for supper. Since I’m so tired, I need a big helper. Can you help me find the food on my list? I don’t know that I can do it by myself. If you will help me, when we get home I’ll tell Daddy what a big helper you have been. And then after supper you and I can sit on the couch and read your favorite book. Can you do that or are you too tired?”
Susie: “I’m tired. I don’t want to walk anymore.”
Mom: “Oh no! I thought maybe I would ride and you could push the buggy.” (Mom tickles Susie) “Come on, I’ll put you in the buggy and you can point out the food. When the buggy is too full though, you will have to walk. Let’s see if we can find bread. Is it over here?”
The underlying problem with the first situation is that Mom is still thinking about work and what she has to do at home. Her response was not so much to control the child but to say — “you don’t matter right now, I want to withdraw into my own thoughts.”
You can’t do that with children. When they need you or your training, you must be there. They have a wonderful way of seeing the truth and knowing when they are being pushed out of the picture. Avoid using “Because I say so”. Instead take the time to help your child handle stressful situations.
Most children want to mind their parents and be helpful, but first they must know that they are important and that they are loved.
Isn’t that what we all want?