It’s reported that 80% of all sales are made on the 5th to 12th sales pitch. Whether someone is selling life insurance or a snuggie, most people won’t buy one the first time they hear the infomercial. Most likely, they have to hear the sales pitch as many as a dozen times before they’ll buy whatever it is being sold. The trouble is that many salesmen give up long before the 5th try (on the other hand, some don’t give up even after they have been told “no” 100 times, but that is a different problem altogether). Persistence is important in sales, and it is also important in parenting.
We’ve probably all had a similar experience. Shopping in the supermarket you turn down the aisle to walk past a mom and her 3 year old son. As you pass by you hear the three year old ask for a candy bar and he mom promptly reply “no.” You then pass the same mom and boy again in the next aisle. Only this time the kid isn’t asking for a candy bar; he is screaming and crying for it. The mom still is saying no. Finally, you pass them one last time. This last time the child is calm, and the mom is defeated. Unwilling to endure a misbehaving and screaming child, she gave in to his demands just to shut him up.
What we occasionally observe in the supermarket, is repeated everyday in homes all over. I remember one Sunday when a child was misbehaving in kid’s church. After a few minutes of them getting out of their seat, crawling on the floor, and bugging every kid around them, I simply asked the child to sit down and stop talking. They replied “I will if you give me a prize.” When I asked him why I should give him a prize for behaving like every child is expected, he simply said “My mom always gives me what I want to behave.” This kid was blackmailing his mom daily with threats of bad behavior, and she was giving in.
So what is a parent to do when a child doesn’t want to behave? Persist. Realizing that giving in, and giving them what they want, only has short term gains. It may keep them from screaming the grocery store, but it will result in them screaming later in life when they don’t get what they want then. Better to learn the lesson early in life, “You get what you get, and you don’t get upset.”
It’s true in grocery stores, and it is true in homes. It is true of kids, and it is also true of teenagers. Persistence is a key to effective parenting. If you are unwilling to repeat the same lesson 5, 6, 7, 12 times there will be many lessons your kids will never get. Kids are like every other person, and they don’t buy the sales pitch on the first try.
What about you, where have you seen persistence play a role in parenting?