“Finish your homework or I will not let you watch TV.”
“Eat the greens or else no ice cream for dessert.”
“If you score well in exams, that iPad is yours.”
“If you keep throwing tantrums like this we will send you to a boarding school.”
My daughter is 9 now and innumerable times I have been guilty of using these tactics to get results out of her. When repeated nagging does not work emotional blackmailing is what most parents resort to as a shortcut to discipline. We start using it for something as trivial as forcing them to go to bed, or as important as scoring well in exams. Though it is effective in the short run we often tend to ignore the long term effects it can have on our children.We tend to forget very early on we are sowing the seeds of corruption in our kids. We are setting examples that bribing is fine. We are teaching them that it is okay to blackmail others to get our work done.Emotional blackmailing can make children adamant. Repeated blackmailing can curb their own decision making.It also dilutes the whole purpose of discipline. Kids do not understand the real essence of the task they are asked to do and instead develop an aversion for the same since they are blackmailed into it.One day we had some guests over for lunch and their 5-year-old child refused palak paneer. My daughter slyly commented pointing her index finger, ”You are not getting the dessert afterwards.” I was embarrassed and thought of having a dialogue with her later. When I tried asking her why she misbehaved during lunch, she said, “But that is how it is, there are conditions always, right Mumma?” I realised what a big parenting mistake I have been committing all these days.Eating vegetables had become conditional for her; it was not that she realised the positives of eating healthily.Corruption, bribery, blackmailing are the last things any parent would want to inculcate in their child. However, this is exactly what I have been doing all these days.The freedom of choice and independence is what I wanted for my child and I was doing just the opposite.Well, what are the alternatives to emotional blackmailing?I have been struggling with it and sometimes I lose patience and do fall prey to it again. But I avoid it as much as possible. I try to be more patient, I listen to her and ask her for alternatives. It doesn’t work all the time. But I know that at least I am doing the basics right. I am not compromising with the values that I want to pass on to her.She has a long life ahead and will face many challenges. But now she will know that not everything in life is conditional. At least not vegetables with ice-cream.
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