Friday, December 18, 2009

Back Talk? Go Brain Dead.

Have you heard the phrase... "Don't add fuel to the fire?"  The principle of  "Going Brain Dead"  is even more effective (like a fire extinguisher).  It works this way.  When a child or teenager (or customer or anyone) is being verbally confrontive everything they are doing is calculated to do one thing - pull you in.  The most damaging thing you can do at this point is to give them control of the situation by engaging in their process.  Don't fight backtalk with backtalk.  The rule is simple.  If they mouth off, you disengage your brain which disengages your mouth and... well, it looks something like this.

Example:  The kids are home from school for awhile in the next weeks and perhaps the Christmas spirit does not prevail.  The siblings are on the warpath.

Adding Fuel to the Fire Way
Parent: Hey, you guys, that hurts my ears. I think a little bedroom time is in order. Feel free to comeback when you can act nicely.
Child 1: I didn't do anything.

Child 2: He hit me first.
Parent: I think you were both being mean.  How am I supposed to always know who hit who first?  Can't you just behave?
Child 1: I'm behaving.  He's not behaving.
Child 2: He should go to his room not me.
Parent: I want you both to go to your rooms now before I really start yelling!
Child 1:  This isn't fair
Parent:  Who said life is fair...

Well you get the idea.  The conversation may escalate and besides you have to think a whole lot to answer their complaints and may actually end up giving them more ammunition to use against you.  How about trying it this way...

Brain Dead Way
Parent:  Hey, you guys, that hurts my ears.  I think a little bedroom time is in order.  Feel free to comeback when you can act nicely.
Child 1:  I didn't do anything.
Child 2:  He hit me first.
Parent:  Silence.
Child 1:  We'll be good.
Child 2:  He should go to his room not me.
Parent: Silence  ( A gentle nonverbal hand pointing toward rooms would be okay)

Children may try to keep up the process.  It is okay also for a parent to use one repetitious statement over and over:  "I know" or  "You heard what I said."  instead of silence but DO NOT embellish beyond this.

So what if they don't go to their rooms?  Well its time for a delayed consequence...Simply say, "That was not a good decision, I'll have to do something."  Then... well, that's another blog post.


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