Some parents are naturally optimistic and reassuring. This is not for them. This is for the rest of us who struggle with being positive with our kids in practical ways. Who need some phrases to help us show our kids we believe in them, that we expect them to do well, that screwing up is not a disaster, that they can count on us.
Our kids also need to know that we, as the grown ups and authority figures, will not be totally derailed by a uncooperative child. They need to see that even if they melt down, lose it, or rebel in garden-variety ways, we will still go about our business, make dinner, now the lawn, help with homework, say bedtime prayers.
We are the constant in their world. And understanding that will go a long way in reducing their anxiety and their plans for dictatorship.
A threat is informing someone that when they do something we don't want them to do, we will retaliate. It has no place in parenting. Unless it involves tickling.
What we do instead is inform our children of our expectations and the consequences, both positive and negative, that will consistently occur as a result of their choices. That is life training.
It's not just semantics, it's a difference in tone, body language, and anxiety level.
Would you respond better to...
"If you don't stop running around the house and calm down I am gonna take away movie time."
"I will be happy to start your movie when you are sitting still on the couch with your blanket."
More positive expectation statements that you can swap a threat for...
"I can help you with that Lego tower once you've put the train set away."
"I have a Popsicle ready for you once you've eaten your chicken and carrots!"
"I would love to snuggle and read a book with you as soon as you are done screaming in your room. Just let me know when you're ready."
We are sending the message, primarily through tone and word choice, that we expect and are prepared for them to choose well. The consequences are still in place if they choose disobedience, but we approach each day with the hope and belief that our kids can do it. It's a new day and we are our children's biggest fans and cheerleaders.