Parenting: Reverse psychology?
February 22, 2011 (WPVI) -- Most parents of school age children know a thing or two about using reverse psychology - because it often works.
For example, if a child isn't eating all their vegetables, you could say something like: "I bet you can't eat all those string beans in one minute". Or if a youngster isn't putting away his games, you might say: "I'll do it for you, because you probably don't know where the games belong."
That's reverse psychology - trying to get the child to do the exact opposite of what you SAY you want him to do.
I've tried it more than a few times... mostly as a scare tactic. For instance when we're in a crowded store and Nicholas wants to run off, I have said "go ahead run-off, you're probably gonna get lost..."
Sure, reverse psychology can work - but is it good parenting?
Experts say it depends on how often and under what circumstances you use it. For example, if you're child isn't doing well in school, it may not be a good idea to say: "That's okay, you're probably not smart enough anyway".
It could convince a child that they indeed aren't smart enough, and should stop trying to get better grades.
According to most child behavioral experts, parents should be careful that they are not using reverse psychology to manipulate their children. It can then take on a negative tone. Also don't use it in a way that will hurt your child's self-esteem, or make they feel guilty.
Apparently reverse psychology works best when the youngster is given choices. For example, if a child doesn't want to take a bath, a parent using reverse psychology might say, "Okay then let's just go straight to bed". Most younger kids will do almost anything to avoid going to bed early.
When I was a kid, and I didn't want to take a bath, my mom used to say, "Fine don't bathe, you'll just be dirty, smelly and all your friends and classmates will tease you!" Her reverse psychology worked, but to this day, I probably shower more than the average person.
rick williams parenting reports, parenting, rick williams
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