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1 intervention to minimise ultimatums

I have come to notice that everytime we have to pull off a threat or ultimatum with our child, it boils down to 1 thing – Time. The lack of it.

Man alone measures time. Man alone chimes the hour. And, because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creature endures. A fear of time running out.

Mitch Albom, The Time Keeper

This realisation came about as I reflected on the words we used whenever we need to threaten, scream, raise our voices (and whatever else you can think of) at our child. It usually sounds something like this.

“Hurry up! No time already!”

In our desperation to make up for time, we use quick fixes thinking that they would really fix things. Sometimes I would I guess, depending on how much of a tiger mum/dad one is or how fearful your child is of you.

However, in our life’s journey, we should have learnt by now that anything that is quick always has a tradeoff.

  • Construct a building quickly and you risk its stability.
  • Jump into a relationship quickly and you risk its sustainability.
  • Drive quickly and you risk an accident.
  • And the list goes on.

So a simple fix to this problem is to buffer in more time.

About 2 weeks ago, my wife had gone back to work and it would be the first time, in a long time, that my wife would not be sending my son to school. He had to settle for 2nd best – Daddy would be sending him to school.

He knew it and was reluctant to go. We went to the car, but he refused to sit in the car seat and be belted up. He struggled and kicked, nothing I did helped. I was on the verge of having my own meltdown and tempted to use the dark side of the Force (btw, I’ve recently taught my son how to say “I am your father” in Vader style).

But I had time. This was the redeeming factor. So I took 15 minutes to negotiate with him at the carpark, we even went back home to say our goodbyes again. Eventually he coorperated.

Knowing that it was a different routine from before, I had planned to leave house 30 minute earlier than usual and this anticipation paid off, I did not need to turn to the dark side.

So the lesson learnt? The next time, there’s going to be a chance in routine, you can expect some resistance. Then buffer in some time and things should be more manageable.

May the Force be with you.

3 thoughts on “1 intervention to minimise ultimatums

  1. Hey,
    This post strikes a chord in my heart. I always agree that time (or the lack of) is the key cause for parents losing patience. It’s a structural issue with society that cannot be easily fixed. I’m just glad that because of the nature of my work as a tutor, I’m usually not rushing for time in the morning for work. I even have time to have a nice breakfast with the whole family.
    When I wrote something about spending more time with my kid in past articles, there are some very disgrunted comments that they have no time, so they are spending quality time only. Quality time? There’s no such thing as quality. If we are unable to have low quality time doing chores or just simply nothing together, we will not be there to experience those magical quality time too.


    1. I think depends on how you define quality? Being physically present but not mentally present also no use. I’m guilty of that sometimes. My boy will watch TV, then I’ll have time to browse social media. Yet I don’t really want him to watch TV. Social media? Can always browse when he sleeps. So by changing routines, I think can still create some form of quality time.

      Yes, I really envy the mornings you have. For the past 17 years, I’ve always had to be in school by 7am. Being able to send him to school is a luxury and a source of many stories of his reluctance to go to school!

      Liked by 1 person

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