What to say when your kid says “It’s not FAIR!”

Posted by Samantha on August 2, 2011 in Boundaries, Consequences, Parenting Dilemmas |

I’ve noticed that our culture has become averse to letting children – and adults – experience the consequences of their actions.

But it’s essential to let children experience the true consequences of their actions if they’re to become mature, emotionally healthy human beings.

Things get easier when we’re honest about the fact that letting children experience the consequences of their actions in a way that would promote their growth and learning is often very uncomfortable for parents.

I’ve discovered that it’s essential for me to be able to handle the consequences of being a responsible and authoritative parent.  Our children sometimes dole out some pretty unpleasant consequences (shouting, yelling, stamping, slamming, pleading, whining…) when we thwart their desires.

So how can you hold your ground in the face of an onslaught brought on by upholding your standards or enforcing your boundaries?

No matter how skilful I become at using empathy, reflective listening, planning for success or avoidance of direct “No” responses (as in, “Oh yes, that could be a nice thing to do sometime” instead of “No way, we can’t do that today”), I still might have an irate child who is loudly and insistently trying to get me to change my mind about whatever boundary I’m sticking by.

When I say something that my children don’t want to hear (actually, the truth is that it’s usually my younger child – an especially persistent sort of Sunshine Girl – who does the major objecting), and the chorus of “It’s not fair!” starts up, I put my brain in neutral and call upon my trusty list of standby catchphrases that don’t send her flying off the handle AND keep me in my rational, adult brain!

EVERY parent needs a list like this.  Here’s mine:

Maybe so.

Could be.

Uh huh.

That’s right.

You said it.

So you say.

Repeat to fade…………….

This works because I’m not wondering what on earth to do or say.  I know exactly what to say!  Try it.  It’s actually fun.  And my husband loves watching me do this.  I’m hoping one day soon he’ll copy me.


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