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5...3...1...Go!

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I was at our neighborhood pool last Saturday and witnessed this gruesome scene:

Mother: We need to get going. Please get out of the pool.
Scott: Not yet, Mom.
Mother: Now. Let's get moving.
Scott: I'm not ready to get out.
Mother: Young man, when I say get out I want you to listen.
Scott: (Paddles off, ignoring her.)
Mother: Scott! If you don't get out of the pool this instant I'm taking one dollar out of your allowance!
Scott: (Ignores her.)
Mother: Okay buddy. Make that two dollars. (Long pause) Three dollars!
Scott: Aw, Mom, cut it out. I'll get out in a minute.
Mother: Four dollars, and I mean it!
Scott: (Begins to splash around with a friend.)
Mother: (Grumbles something incomprehensible and sits down on a lounge chair.)

What went wrong ?????

Scott's frustrated mother broke two very important parenting rules. They are:

1) Take charge!

2) Use rules and routines.

It's very obvious that Scott and his mother do not have a clear understanding of who's in charge. I bet that variations on this scene occur on a daily basis between them. The good news is that it's a problem that CAN be fixed.

The first step is for Mother to allow herself the position of control in the relationship. She must believe that it is her right and responsibility to take charge during Scott's growing years. She must then convey this message to him in her words and actions. HOW?

Learn and use parenting skills.
Have a discipline plan.
Say what you mean, mean what you say, and follow through!

So how do you get him out of the pool without a scene?

First, by understanding the kid. He's having fun. You're spoiling it. It's hard for kids to switch gears on a dime, particularly if they are doing something fun (swimming) and must leave to do something not so fun (go home). When you burst into their fun saying, "Time to go" it's hard for a child to immediately comply.

How can you "be in charge" and acknowledge the child's needs at the same time? Easy. On a regular basis use the "5 ... 3 ... l...Go!" skill. Let's re-write the grisly scene at the pool using this idea:

Mother: Scott, we're leaving in five minutes.
Scott: Okay.
(About 2 minutes pass as Scott continues to play in the water.)
Mother: Scott, we're leaving in three minutes.
(A few more minutes pass.)
Mother: Scott, we're leaving in one minute. Do you want to take one more dive, or one last slide?
(Scott takes a dive and looks up to see Mom standing by the side of the pool holding out his towel.)
Mother: Okay, Scott, let's go.

The keys to making this work are:

Use this method daily for all kinds of events - dinner, bath time, bedtime, leaving the house, starting an activity ...

When you say "Go" you mean "Go - NOW". Make it clear and follow through. After some practice your kids will get used to the idea and respond promptly.

Modify your approach based on your child's age and personality. For instance, with an older child you might say, "It's 2:45 and we're leaving at 3:00 sharp, please be ready to go." This is just one more skill to help you be a more effective parent.

Credits: Elizabeth Pantley, author of Kid Cooperation and P

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