Have them ask for permission

Source: dreamstime.com

It can be so incredibly important and effective to have our children ask for permission as they go about their days. If you have a child who tends to roam the house at will or who takes far too many verbal freedoms, having him ask for permission can immediately curb attitude issues.

I first learned the importance of this when I was on the phone with my contact mom one day (when William was about 3). He had started to put his boots on to go out into the backyard, and I asked her whether she thought that was okay. She said, “Did he ask for permission?” Of course he hadn’t, and I quickly realized that was at the root of many of our problems. He was just taking freedoms at will, and we never stopped to have him ask.

“Do you let your three-year-old go into the backyard to play without asking permission? Do you let your five-year-old decide for herself when she can go next door to play with her friend? Think through your day. How many times do you hear your child say, ‘Mom, I’m going to…’ rather than, ‘Mom, may I…?’ Is your child asking you to do things or just telling you what he’s going to do?” (On Becoming Childwise).

“The child who customarily tells you what she is going to do is assuming a level of decision-making freedom which she may or may not have. And if this continues, it is because her parents have allowed her to take this ground and hold it,” (On Becoming Childwise).

There are two great benefits of having your child ask for permission. First, it prevents problems before they occur. Rather than having to discipline a child for taking a freedom after the fact, you can stop the child from taking the freedom in the first place. Second, it allows you time to decide whether you will allow the child the freedom.

There is nothing wrong with letting your child have certain freedoms. The problem lies with who ultimately decides what he can and cannot do.

“There is a simple technique you can use to keep this problem at bay. Have your child ask permission rather than informing you of his decision…. Seeking permission helps a child realize his dependence on your leadership. It also helps prevent a child from becoming wise in his own eyes,” (On Becoming Childwise).

If you never require your child to ask for permission, he will assume that it means he has the freedom to do whatever he wants. We all know this cannot be healthy.

The Ezzos caution us that we must always follow through when our response to a request is a “no.”

“One warning: this technique will only work if you actually play your parental role. If your child asks permission to go next door and you say no, you may witness a case of spontaneous combustion right there in your living room [especially if you’re new to this rule.] If the child throws a tantrum (or threatens to in front of your company) and you give in, you haven’t made an adjustment at all. The child is still telling you what he’s going to do—you’ve just changed the vocabulary,” (On Becoming Childwise).

You will have to decide what you will require them to ask permission for. But if in doubt, have them ask. Many times, when my kids start to do something, I stop them and have them ask. I may still go ahead and say “yes,” but it makes it clear to them that they aren’t the ones to decide.

Understand how important this simple technique can be. It can eliminate attitude issues almost immediately, and is very effective in ensuring the child doesn’t think he’s running the show. If you do nothing else, start implementing this right away!

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