Your energy can be devoted far more productively to collaborating with your child on solutions to the problems that are causing challenging episodes than in sticking with strategies that may actually have made things worse and haven’t led to durable improvement… You and your child are going to be allies, not adversaries. Partners, not enemies.
On mindless obedience:
If a kid is putting his concerns on the table, taking yours into account, and working collaboratively toward a solution that works for both of you—and if therefore the frequency and intensity of challenging episodes are being reduced—then he’s most assuredly being held accountable and taking responsibility for his actions.
Formula for Collaboration:
The Empathy step involves gathering information from your child to understand his concern or perspective about a given unsolved problem… “I’ve noticed that…” + (problem) + “What’s up?”
2) Define the Problem
“The thing is…” + (communicate your concerns about the problem)
3) The Invitation
“I wonder if there’s a way we can…” + (address kid’s concern) + “but that still makes sure to” + (address your concern) +“Do you have any ideas?”
For a solution to work, it has to be realistic and mutually satisfactory.
“Well, that’s an idea, and I know that idea would address your concern, but I don’t think it would address my concern. Let’s see if we can come up with an idea that will work for both of us.”
A (dictator) boss is a problem to be solved. How does your child learn to solve problems? Which skill set is more important for life in the real world: the blind adherence to authority… or identifying and articulating one’s concerns, taking others’ concerns into account, and working toward solutions that are realistic and mutually satisfactory…? If kids are completely dependent on imposition of adult will to do the right thing, then what will they do when adults aren’t around to impose their will?