If you yell "off or I'll give the PlayStation to your cousins" and they don't get off, give it away.
There were reports last week about parental "bullying" at a Wellington pool, accusations that a father made his son "keep swimming after two hours".
The incident led to their expulsion from the facility. In response, a city councillor claimed "bullying and intimidating parents are rife across codes". Maybe, but is making a kid swim for a few hours that bad? It's hardly the chimneys of Victorian England.
Being pushed to train hard by an overly keen parent was once a respected way to get ahead.
Now thanks to Joe Jackson, Andre Agassi's dad and child beauty pageants, living vicariously through your children is out of fashion.
Pushy parents are being frowned on nationwide. Yet a good proportion of parenting will always involve forcing kids to do things they don't want to do.
You love them. You want them to do their best. So you set a high bar and nag them over it.
The level you set depends on your expectations and the child's abilities. Most parents won't set it at "train 14 times a week till you make the Olympics".
No. "Do the dishes" is a more realistic bar.
Forget gold medals most parents would be happy with a reasonably functional member of society.
With that in mind, here are five great areas in which good parents can safely push their youngsters towards adult competence.
Kids will spend their entire childhood on devices if you don't stop them. So pull the plug and ignore the tanty.
There is no need for a discussion. Being bored is a good thing. Eventually, they will be forced to use their creativity and think of something else to do. The key to digital enforcement is making threats and keeping them.
If you yell something crazy like "off now or I'll give the PlayStation to your cousins" and they don't get off, then give the blasted console away. That's a power move.
Do something like that once and they won't question you again.
You know those annoying kids who won't eat certain foods? "I don't eat tomatoes", "I don't like cheese", "Can you pick the pineapple off my pizza?" No! My kids don't get to decide what they eat.
They don't get asked. There are starving children in the world. If kids aren't grateful for the food they are given, they don't have to eat it. There will be no changes to the menu.
They'll come crawling back when they get hungry enough. Food is a power struggle, you can't cede a centimetre. Give in on the veggie front and you'll be arguing about fruit. Give in on fruit and they'll test the line on everything else. We all love our kids. We would do anything for them but food complaints need to be answered with a firm "YOU GET WHAT YOU GET AND YOU DON'T GET UPSET!"
We've forced our kids to do the dishes against their will since they were 5. They made a horrific mess for years. It was a huge hassle. But we made them do it night after night and now they clean up without complaint. They know no other way. My children are dishwasher-filling zombies. It's great.
Children don't want to brush. They hate it. It's boring. There is little in it for them. They don't pay dental bills. They don't care if they have bad breath. Force them to clean their teeth now or bankrupt yourself at an orthodontist in their teens. If your little ones have gone to bed without brushing, get them up. Drive them like livestock to the bathroom and back. It's good for them and for you.
Realism is the key to getting your kids to sleep. If you make their bedtime at 6pm you are in for a fight every night. Make it 9.30pm and you win every time. Parents often complain their kids get up too early.
Invariably this is because they make them go to bed when it's still light. 9:30pm to 6:30am is good sleep. No one over 3 years old needs more than nine hours. The key is making them go to bed when they are already falling asleep. Then there's no struggle. It's just a matter of yelling.
"IN BED NOW. GOOD NIGHT, SHUT UP, LOVE YOU!!!" A lot of parenting is forcing your beloved kids to do things they don't want to do. It's unlikely you'll successfully push them all the way to the All Blacks. However, if you go really hard for years and years you might just force them into competent adulthood. That's a win.