Create the family you want to have

End the Hassle! Tell kids what they deserve.

Hey Dad..!

Hey Dad..! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s parenting tip that I have for you is so simple but it could change so many of the more frustrating conversations you have with your children.  Are you ready?  When your children are hounding you about doing something you don’t think is a good idea, instead of saying no and negotiating back and forth about when they can, how much, why not, etc. try framing the issue in terms of what they deserve.  You know how this usually goes. You tell your child they can’t do something or they have to do something and they start to argue and negotiate.  Why can’t I?  All the other kids do!  You’re mean! Until you wonder if it was really important in the first place, or their arguments become so darned sophisticated that they have convinced you to go against your better judgement in regard to their health and safety.  Telling your kids what they deserve can end some of that and help you to keep focused on the main goal, the health and safety of your children.  It looks like this:

Example 1:

Kid: Mom, the other kids in my class don’t have to sit in a booster car seat any more! (feel free to imagine this as a whine)

Mom: You deserve to be as safe as possible and the booster keeps you safe.

Example 2:

Kid: Why can’t I have another cookie?  I only had a few!

Mom: You deserve to be healthy, let’s give your body the food it deserves.

Example 3:

Kid: Hey Dad, can I go to Joe’s party this weekend?

Dad: Will there be adults present?

Kid: But Dad!  You don’t trust me?!  I never get to do anything!

Dad: You deserve to be safe.

Framing your decisions this way will not save you from eye-rolls, huffing and puffing, or pouting all together.  Nothing saves you from those things completely, but it may shorten some of the duration.  It also saves some of the mental gymnastics for you.  For every arguement they come up with about the same issue, you can stop and ponder for a moment, then repeat how much you feel as though they really deserve to be safe, healthy, free from hurtful relationship or friendships, etc.  After all, it is difficult to argue back with someone telling you how important you are over and over.  Also, remember that our internal self talk is shaped by the way we were spoken to by our parents. Wouldn’t you prefer that your child’s self talk as they grow be “I deserve to eat healthy foods” over “don’t eat that, it’s bad for you?”

April 30, 2012 - Posted by | discipline, help for parents | , , , , , ,


  1. Thanks for this – any tips on what level of understanding the child should have before implementing this? Meaning, how old generally can the child be to understand the concept of ‘deserving’? Any different methods for younger kids ? Is it ok to say for example, too many cookies will hurt your tummy and then mummy will be sad?

    Comment by GorillaParenting | April 30, 2012 | Reply

    • Kids can be pretty young and still get this one but if you think your child is too young to understand “deserve,” I might word it something like, “Your body likes it when you eat fruits and veggies more than cookies. Even if your tongue doesn’t like it, your tummy and your bones feel better and it makes you stronger.” The idea behind this one is to help the child become internally motivated to do the behavior (I like this, even if I didn’t recognize it at first) rather than what the parent wants. As I am sure you have noticed, the temptation for sugar tends to trump pleasing the parent. Does that explain it? Thank you for the excellent question.

      Comment by help4yourfamily | April 30, 2012 | Reply

  2. This post shows a great shift of the focus to what the meaning of what these discussions are really about in the first place. Basic underlying principles of safety, health, happiness, and our love for our children.
    Thank you.

    Comment by queenoffamilosity | April 30, 2012 | Reply

  3. You’ve been tagged! Please come out and play!

    Comment by Mom Meets Blog | May 1, 2012 | Reply

  4. […] describes how to respond to a child’s demands. Here’s an excerpt from the post, titled "End the Hassle: Tell Kids what they Deserve": Kid: Mom, the other kids in my class don’t have to sit in a booster car seat any more! (feel […]

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  7. […] children to know that we are coming from a place of love. One of these ways I detailed in my post, End the Hassle! Tell Kids What They Deserve, in which I describe how to tell kids they deserve a clean room, safety, a healthy body, less […]

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