The best way to teach a child not to have to have the last word
is to let him have the last word.
Doesn’t seem to make sense, but this advice, given to me by a fellow mama, is solid. And here’s why:
Modeling is our best and most effective teaching tool – showing the way and allowing them to understand how to live, rather than telling a child how to behave and manipulating them into behaviors.
Sometimes, modeling has a way of showing us our own faults. . . like when I realized that the reason Abbey picks her nose so nonchalantly is because I rarely reach for a tissue when I have an irritation in my nostril (a habit I am now trying wholeheartedly to kick!), or when I see Abbey growl in frustration at an object. That’s modeling my behaviors, too.
And then there’re the times that modeling is our best and only friend in the journey of parenting. When nothing else “works” except simple, natural demonstration:
When everything is at a standstill and neither Abbey nor I is going to give up the fight, I just throw in the towel. “Mommy loves you too much to argue.” I say, and I step away.
“Not FAIR! You make me ANGRY! Next time you’ve got to be NICE to me!” Abbey screams, and crosses her arms, a foul look on her sweet face.
And I do nothing.
I want to yell “You don’t think you make ME angry!?” and let out all my frustration out in a tirade of shame and “I’m disappointed in you”s. She’s gotten me so hot under the collar that I just want to lash out, or at the least make her apologize to me.
But I do nothing.
I don’t scold her – and I don’t reach out to comfort her. I simply let her have the last word, and allow her the quiet in which to calm down and move on. Because in allowing her to see her mommy comfortable with walking away peacefully, I’m teaching her that you don’t have to get the last word to be happy, and that peace trumps self-righteousness. Every time.
The best way to teach a child not to need to have the last word is to let them have the last word.
Show them how to walk away.
Love your child too much to argue. Demonstrate for your child how to walk away in peace, and one day, they will walk that path, too.