Author: Maria Dolgopolova, psychologist and prof. N.I. Kozlov

Painfully familiar situation: you agreed with the child that he would do something. Or, conversely, will no longer do. And then — nothing has been done: the toys have not been removed, the lessons have not been done, I have not gone to the store … You get upset, offended, start swearing: “Why? After all, we agreed? After all, you promised! How can I trust you now? The child promises that he will not do this again, but the next time everything repeats.

Why is this happening and can something be done about it?

Everything is simple. The child sees his mother, who demands a promise from him, and it is easier for him to make a promise than to think “can I really do all this, given my other affairs and features of my character.” Children very easily make promises that are fundamentally impossible to fulfill and which often begin with the words «I always …» or «I will never …». They do not think about their promise when they say this, they solve the problem «How to get away from parental anger» and «How to quickly get out of this conversation.» It’s always much easier to say «uh-huh» and then not do it if «it doesn’t work out.»

This is what all children do. So does your child because you 1) didn’t teach him to think when he promises something and 2) didn’t teach him to be responsible for his words.

In fact, you have not taught him many other important and not simple things. You have not taught him to ask for help when he needs it to do the work assigned to him. If you taught a child all these adult things, then perhaps the child would say to you: “Mom, I can only put things away if I put them away right now. And in 5 minutes I’ll forget about it, and I won’t be able to organize myself without you!”. Or even simpler: “Mom, such a situation — I promised the guys that today we are going to the cinema together, but my lessons have not yet been done. Therefore, if I start cleaning now, then I will have a disaster. Please — give me this task tomorrow, I will no longer negotiate with anyone!

You understand that not every child (and not every adult) has such developed predictive thinking and such courage in talking with parents … Until you teach the child to think like this, think like an adult, plus until he is convinced that this is how it is more correct and profitable to live, he will talk to you like a child, and you will swear at him.

Where should this most important and interesting work begin?

We would suggest starting with the habit of keeping your word. More precisely, from the habit of thinking first of all “Will I be able to keep my word”? To do this, if we ask a child for something and he says “Yes, I will do it!”, We do not calm down, but discuss: “Are you sure? Why are you sure? — You’re forgetful! You have a lot of other things to do!” And besides this, we think together with him how to organize his time and what can be done so that he really does not forget …

Similarly, if, nevertheless, the promise was not fulfilled, then we do not swear “Here the toys are not removed again!”, but together with him we arrange an analysis of what happened: “How did you manage not to fulfill what we planned? What did you promise? Did you really promise? Did you want to do it? Let’s think about it together!»

Only with your help and only gradually will the child begin to learn to make promises more consciously and ask himself more often: “Can I do this?” and “How can I achieve this?”. Gradually, the child will better understand himself, his characteristics, will be able to better predict what he can do and what he can’t cope with yet. And it’s just easier to understand what consequences one or another action leads to.

The ability to keep a word to parents and the ability to make only those promises that can be kept is important not only for reducing conflicts in relationships: this is the most important step towards real adulthood, a step towards the child’s ability to manage himself and his life.


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