Paulab52, you wrote:
"I feel like I'm always telling my kids what to do."
It is a pretty new world to them, and they are probably glad to get lots of advice from someone they trust- mom and dad are the best candidates for 'trusted advisor' status. Tentatively offering information, and being willing to listen and to adjust one's theories in the light of new information, makes more sense than to order people around without regard for their feelings and wishes in the matter, in the context of close personal relationships.
"Yes, I know I'm the parent and I know what's best, "
Well, there is the biological fact of being the parent, and then there is the trusted advisor capacity. Human beings are fallible- yep, every single last one of them, even the pope
If a person approaches any situation, sure that they know what is best, they are apt to miss the opportunity to improve their theories and to find what is more best.
And, in the parent-child relationship, they run the risk of causing resentment and anger and desire for revenge and closing off lines of communication and such like.
"but I swear, they don't listen to me anyway. "
And I think this is why kids don't listen to parents. Parents have told them how many times? about this is going to happen or that is going to hurt you, and the kid does whatever it is and finds out that *parent was wrong*. Yet, parent seems to think that 'parent knows best'.
Words matter. How a parent talks to their child about what parent wants to do next in the day or about bringing a cherished toy into a store with them or about brushing their teeth or anything at all, makes a big difference as to what sort of solution will be found to any problem. Solutions that come about through non-coercion do not harm people.
Is it right to coerce/cause coercion in the mind of one's child, or in one's own mind, for that matter? What is the harm that it does? What about telling the truth? A parent might want to think about how to tell the absolute, scrupulous truth. Sprinkling a lot of 'I could be wrong's and 'it seems to me' and 'as far as I know' and 'this is how I think it is' and 'my understanding is' let's everyone know that there is room for more information and that we might never know the truth of any matter, but this is our best theory according to what we know now. And the way is open for anyone involved to throw out their ideas, and ne knowledge can be created.
In some instances, child does know better than parent, especially when it comes to what is going on in hir own mind and body.
Quoting Paulab52 again:
"Take of your PJ's and get dressed so we can go out."
How about asking if anyone wants to go out? Including everyone in making the plan, get ideas about where to go. A parent can outline the things that they want to do, and see what others want to do , and they can work out a plan to get it all done, keeping in mind along the way that preferences change, and the plan could change at any time, as well. Flexibility is a virtue!
If a parent has a great theory about why the family should all get dressed and go out to do many interesting things, the kids might very well be willing to get dressed and get on with doing the many interesting things. If they are being forced to get dressed when they don't want to, to do things they don't want to do, I can understand the avoidance tactics. Maybe some kids want to go in their jammies. Maybe some would rather stay home with a babysitter or relative or go to the neighbor's while the rest of the family goes out. Maybe they would rather go out in the afternoon than in the morning. Maybe they'd like to stay home all day and have friends visit. EAch person has their own idea about what they want to do, and to ignore that and push one's own agenda upon unwilling people is wrong, whether it is parent and child or boss and employee or government and citizen--- ok, I'm getting off track
TCS is about the relationship between parent and child (though there are other lists that talk about the further implications of TCS theory).
" They aren't doing anything, so having to stop isn't a problem."
This is totally an assumption, and quite likely to be wrong and is anyway disrespectful. Check out the college PhD professor in hir office, feet up on the desk, gazing out the window. Doing nothing? Probably not! I would prefer to err on the side of assuming that any person is doing something (in their mind), whether or not I can tell what that is from observing them. And that whatever they are doing is very important to them, and I will tentatively ask to be excused, and is this a good time to talk about something? Or will you let me know when it is a good time?
"They just sit there and ingore me, or go the opposite direction from the bedroom."
Sometimes when people think they are being ignored, they actually have not been heard because the person is busy concentrating on something else. This happens to me, when I am busy thinking about something, and I have observed it happening in others. Again, assumptions can get in the way of treating people respectfully.
If a parent does a lot of controling of things that are not their business- things that any autonomous person should have control of their own self, like when to get dressed and what to put on, when and what to eat, when to sleep, and so on, then I can see where the victims of the intended control might try to avoid that controller.
" I have to ask them several times to come and get dressed. Then we have the whole clothing issues... "
How to change this situation? I think a parent has to become convinced in their own mind that coercion is not right. It is not about results, about finding a method of dealing with children that 'works' so as to produce an obedient child or any other sort of child product. TCS is a philosophy about how to live together in a family non-coercively. It is about the right way to treat people. About non-coercive ways to resolve conflict. About how people learn.
A parent who wants to change the way they interact with their children so that they are dealing with each other non-coercively, would want to apologize to their children for all the coercion they have so far visited upon them. They could explain that they are trying to change their ways, and this is a process, this learning how to live together and solve problems that arise in a non-coercive way, and enlist the children's help in identifying coercion as it happens and then in finding common preferences when conflict does arise. And they would continue to apologize for using coercion, when they fail to find non-coercive solutions, and talk about the failures and figure out better ways for the next situation.
Respect. "Can you buckle your seat belt, or would you like help?' 'If you get tired of carrying your toy, I'll put it in my pocket so you don't lose it' 'If you take your toy into this store, they might think you didn't pay for it when you leave, because they sell that toy here, and we don't want to have to pay for it again! So maybe it should stay safely in the car? What do you think?' 'How about if we tie a string around the toy and the other end onto your beltloop, so you can't just put it down and forget about it and leave it?'
Food is a huge issue that we all have problems with, I daresay. How can we not pass on our poor food theories? That is an issue for another thread, methinks.
If a parent doesn't trust their young child around streets and traffic, the child might need lots more information. Examining road kill when one runs across it
(I'm not saying literally run across it) can be very instructional though only if the child wants to look at it. Taking a plastic bottle and putting water in it (maybe even color it with food coloring) and parent and child can watch as someone drives a car over it and see what happens to it and talking about these things can help a small child understand about the danger. Ask child how they would like parent to help them stay safe, in case they forget when running around or chasing a ball. A fence between yard and street might be a good idea. Child might be happy to play in back when understanding about these dangers. The solutions will be different for every parent-child relationship depending upon their dynamics and experiences, and the solutions will change frequently too, I'll bet. Flexibility and creativity.
HOpe something here helps, for starters.