Remember, the trick works even at Christmas. There is a magic spell that suddenly paralyzes our rowdy children and sounds more or less like: “behave yourself, kings know everything and you will run out of toys.” Yes, surely there are many articles by prestigious psychiatrists and pedagogues advising against this practice of making our children feel guilty, also using magical beings who have eyes everywhere like a perpetual Big Brother, and that as if this were not enough they can enter in your house while you sleep to punish you.
But sometimes, real parents, in real life, without so much pedagogical diploma and with several weeks of children without school, need to forget about the great perfect parenting and obtain fast and reliable results. And the phrase works, even if it is blackmail.
In fact, parents tend to quarrel afterwards when we don’t want to lose our temper. Our generation wants to be friends with their children, earn popularity points on social media and in parenting chats. Always be in a good mood and avoid conflict at all costs. Because that way we are all happier and because being the bad cop is tiring. That children also recriminate you when you least expect it, and with their prodigious memory, not yet overloaded with a lifetime of grudges, they are able to pinpoint the moments in which you have yelled or punished them.
For this reason, when the situation gradually becomes tense, such as when you see a demonstration on TV and bet with yourself when the stones and blows begin, instead of letting a scream or entering a spiral of exhausting discussions, we resort to wild card of the public.
“Be good, the kings see everything and will bring you coal.” “Be good, that Santa Claus knows everything.” “Be nice or that guard will give you a fine.” “Be good, the waitress is going to be angry.” “Stop yelling, you’re bothering that man.” “Do your homework or the teacher will give you a bad grade” …
Hey, it’s a very effective instant-results firewall. Much more than an everyday “if you don’t stop being silly we go home”, which yes, implies losing some fun, but, as it depends exclusively on us, they know that they can fight us.
If you have never said any of these phrases, you are either very lucky or your children are still too young to be exhausted.
Deep down, we avoid wanting to take the helm and we prefer that sometimes they are scared by another. But this already happened when our parents. “Go to sleep now, the coconut is coming and it will eat you” was not exactly using the Estivill method.
So let’s remember that magical beings and strangers with possible bad moods can also help us for free without even knowing it. But let’s not abuse the resource, or our children in a few years will tell us: “If you keep manipulating me, my therapist will criticize you.”
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.