It’s not uncommon for parents to experience guilt, doubt, or unease about decisions they make when their child responds by crying, complaining or criticizing.
Your toddler wants candy as you proceed through the checkout lane. You say, “No!” and he cries. Feeling embarrassed and bad, you give in to his protests to quiet him. Your teenage daughter wants new clothes for school so you establish a clothing budget. Instead of gratitude, she complains that you’re being stingy, other parents are far more generous than you are! Feeling chagrined and wondering if you’re cheap, you increase her budget.
If you make a decision and then waver, giving in to your son’s or daughter’s unhappiness, then you teach your child that his or her unhappiness is powerful. Your message is clear: “Get unhappy and then mom or dad will eventually back down. Unhappiness will get you what you want, everytime.”
Kids, from a very early age, learn to use unhappiness in all its forms: anger, guilt, sadness, irritation, etc to get what they want. The irony is that most parents just want their children to be happy, but instead we reward their discomfort.
The best way to teach your children that unhappiness (in any form) doesn’t move you – is to stand by your unpopular decisions with comfort and ease irrespective of their unhappy responses.