Recently I read a blog post by Eric Sammons about suffering and self-denial and teaching our kids the same.

In the post, Eric writes

Countless times I have seen parents employ what I call the “switcheroo” method of parenting; by this I mean that if they want to deny their child something he or she wants, they simply switch that item with something else the child wants. “Johnny, you can’t play with that knife, but here play with this remote control instead.” In order to prevent the child from a negative reaction (i.e. screaming his head off), the parent avoids this by immediately satisfying the child’s desires in another way.

Eric thinks that by employing the “switcheroo”, we are missing opportunities to teach our kids valuable lessons about self-denial.

I agree with Eric. However, there are times when employing the “switcheroo” is not only helpful but necessary…for example, during Mass!

What about you… do you “switcheroo”?

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6 Responses to Do you “switcheroo”?

  1. Paul Kemp Jr says:

    We do a little of both actually. I think there is a time and place for each method to be used. Any tools we can add to out belts are worth sharpening!

  2. Jeremy says:

    I’ve used the “switcheroo” at times during mass or a place where a tantrum isn’t appropriate. Depending on the age of the kid and their reasoning abilities I think it can be useful. I agree teaching self-denial, but there is a time and place for everything.

  3. Eric Sammons says:

    I admit that I have done the “switcheroo” myself (especially in a situation where my child’s meltdown will be distracting to others, such as at Mass). I agree that there are valid situations for using it.

    But what I have seen too often is parents who use the switcheroo in every situation in which a child must be denied something he wants. In those situations, it seems as if pacification is the goal, not parenting.

  4. GNW_Paul says:

    I don’t think the “switcharoo” itself is really the problem. I probably do it sometimes, but it’s not my first option. I’m not overall opposed to using it, and maybe I do it more often than I think unconsciously.

    The problem as I see it is parents who are intimidated by the prospect of the tantrum and/or unwilling to deal with the tantrum. Yes, there are circumstances when I will do my darnedest to avoid the tantrum – especially with very young children, but… I try to remain consigned to the fact that I may indeed need to deal with the tantrum. And that means giving up what I want right now – self denial for myself.

    Usually that means sitting in the car with a screaming 2 year old and missing holy communion.

    So perhaps the conclusion that I reach is that parents who aren’t willing to practice self-denial to properly manage and discipline their children are likely to parent in a manner never teaches their kids the ability to do without either.

  5. Rob Kaiser says:

    I sometimes do that. In a way, though, it is good psychology. For example, if we try to stop thinking about something – we in fact can’t. The very act of trying induces the thought. This is true in trying to not do something as well. If we do not move our mind to something else, we will ruminate about it and will come back to it like a tongue to a sore tooth. So, when there is a negative activity it is good to switch it with a positive activity.

    I think even when we fast, we do this. The hunger hits us, we want to eat. We turn our mind to God and prayer and offer up the sacrifice. Then we don’t dwell on it – we engage in another activity (even if it is more prayer).

    Just my 2 cents.

  6. Rob Kaiser says:

    My wife just told my 3 year old she could watch a movie because she said no to going in the kiddie pool. I don’t think there was the threat of a fit, but I do think there was parental guilt for saying no frequently. :)