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“One Liners” for Those Challenging Parenting Moments That Push Our Buttons

By Janina Nadaner, MFT
By Janina Nadaner, MFT

“I hate you! You are the worst mother in the world”-screams a 6 year old Jack after you informed him that he may not continue his video game until his one daily household chore is done.

What do you do? Do you retort, your blood pressure rising, ” Do not talk to me this way, young man, or you will be grounded for one week”……or perhaps try one of the more effective one-liners: ” Well, you’ll better get used to me, I am the only mother you will ever have” and then calmly and with a smile on your face disconnect or confiscate the device and exit.

Having a menu of effective one-liners can protect us from losing our cool and giving our child the power to rattle our emotions. And when we are cool and collected, we can turn even the most difficult parenting into truly teachable moments.

Here are some examples:Your child is arguing with you and won’t stop, following you from one room to another. Do you argue back, plead, try winning the argument, scream with exasperation?

Why not pull out a more effective one liner: “I love you too much to argue with you” and then promptly exit (to a safe time out place somewhere in the house).
Other effective one liners you may want to try:

1.    When your child is screaming at you” It’s not fair”, try saying ” Who’s ever told you that things in life are fair”

2.    When your child announces that she is packing her suitcase and leaving, try saying” That would be a mistake. I know you can make good decisions. Let me know how I can help.”

3.    When your child has done something that needs a consequence but you are yet no sure what that consequence should be, try saying” Bummer. How sad for you. I am going to think about what consequence is appropriate and get back to you. And you do some thinking, too”

4.    When your child is trying to disrupt a family event by running around wildly and screaming on top of his lungs, try saying: ” It looks like you have something to say. Let me know when you are ready to talk in a regular voice so I can listen”.

When we meet our child’s anger with anger, we are feeding them a diet of negative attention and emotion, which is exhausting for both children and adults and greatly ineffective. So, have your one liners ready and pull them out at the right times. And enjoy increased cooperation and respectful behavior in your family.