One of the worst places to be as a parent is “on the spot.” However, this one simple parenting rule will quickly teach your children that “on the spot” is the last place they want you.
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First, I would like to make it clear that neither I, nor my husband made up the on the spot rule on our own. We either read it in one of the 100’s of books we read about parenting when we were young parents who actually had time to read, or we heard something similar from another parent and adapted it to fit our needs. We always like to give credit where credit is due, but like so many other parenting tips and tricks, it is difficult to credit any one idea to one person.
The On The Spot Parenting Rule
Peer pressure is a big issue for kids. We spend lots of time as parents teaching kids how to deal with peer pressure and praying they will not succumb to it. Our kids know, first hand, the power of peer pressure, and sometimes, they try to use it to their advantage. This is not to say that every time your child puts you on the spot it is intentional. However, our kids are often smarter than we think. Kids know that parents are also subject to peer pressure and they are willing to use that fact to get what they want. The on the spot rule is a pretty simple rule that takes some of the thought out of parenting and also gives kids some responsibility for their own behavior.
The on the spot rule works in both situations. If your child intentionally puts you on the spot, they will likely stop. If it is unintentional, this rule puts the burden of remembering and correcting their behavior on them. I love the on the spot rule because it takes some of the thought work out of parenting. You don’t have to stop and think of a consequence!
When a child asks permission for something that involves another person, in front of that person (or the other person’s parents), you are put “on the spot”. The on the spot rule states that if the child puts mom or dad “on the spot,” then no matter what, even if mom or dad’s answer may have been a yes, because the child put you on the spot, the answer is automatically a no.
This also takes the negotiation process out of play. If mom or dad is put on the spot, all they have to do is look at the child and say “on the spot,” and the child knows that the answer is no and it is due to their own actions.
Typically, when another parent sees this work for the first time, they are intrigued by the simplicity and want to know more. Pass it on! There is nothing like a whole group of parents who adopt the same rule.
3 Steps to Teaching the On the Spot Rule
Step 1 – Explain what on the spot is.
Make sure your child understands clearly what it means to be put on the spot. If possible, cite specific instances where the child has put you on the spot. Talk about how it makes other people feel to be put on the spot.
Step 2 – Explain the On the Spot Rule
Explain clearly what will happen if you are put on the spot. Explain that you will not negotiate and you will simply say “on the spot.” Explain that the child will never get a yes answer when you are put on the spot.
Step 3 – Explain appropriate options for your child to communicate with you about what he wants to get permission for.
Your child must have an appropriate and acceptable avenue to ask permission for what he wants. Give him acceptable scenarios like, asking ahead or asking you to step away from a group of people. If necessary, act out scenarios of your child appropriately asking permission.
Make it Stick!
Before you institute the on the spot rule, be sure you are willing to enforce the consequences.
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