Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

As a parent, you want your child to have a well-balanced lifestyle, getting regular exercise, having a good sleeping schedule, and eating healthy. But what do you do when your child pushes back on the habits you want them to form?

Whether you’re dealing with a child refusing to clean their plate (don’t get me started on the dangers of forcing kids to eat past the point of full!) or a teen pushing the boundaries. You could try pat answers like, “because I said so,” but it won’t get you very far.

You might be surprised at how well your children will respond to just a little bit of respect.

Children go through all sorts of stages, but a dominant part of growing up is figuring out who you want to be. It is a parent’s job to guide and educate, but as much as we would like to, we can’t make all of their decisions. Even if we could, most people don’t like being told what to do — even as adults (there’s a reason I work for myself).

Rather than fight your children, offer boundaries and choices while allowing them to express opinions, desires, wants, and needs of their own — even if they are different than yours. It is a sign that you respect their individuality, while still providing a safe haven to explore.

Allow your kids to have independence. If dinner is a point of contention, involve your child in planning meals. Discuss choices with your teen and help them understand that they are in control, but that their choices result in consequences (good choices lead to more privileges; bad choices result in erosion of trust and restriction).

By simply acknowledging your child’s choices and feelings, you’ll have taught an important lesson in respect.