Someone was recently explaining to me how she got a child to do something she wanted. It was classic reverse psychology. Telling the child, “Don’t eat that item” in an attempt to make it enticing so he will do it.
I was thinking about this today while we were eating supper. We had Belgian waffles and, for the very first time, Caroline wanted maple syrup on them and eagerly ate them that way. In the past, she would eat the waffles but did not want them adulterated in any way with strawberries or maple syrup. I let it go and eventually she came around on her own and asked for the syrup. The same thing has happened with several different food items. I keep putting them on her plate and if she doesn’t eat them, I dump them. I’m not going to get into battles over food. She is generally a good eater so if she doesn’t want something, I don’t make an issue over it.
So that got me thinking about this comment about reverse psychology. And, truthfully, I had never thought about it before as it pertains to parents getting children to do things. But after a little reflection, I’m thinking…
Isn’t it the same as lying?
You aren’t being truthful with the child. You are telling her one thing when, in fact, you want something completely different.
This truth thing is big for me which is why we won’t do Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy. (I know some people disagree with that train of thought and that’s between them and God and their children.) I want Caroline to know that we will always be truthful with her as far as possible and as far as it is age appropriate. After reflecting on it, this seemed like a form of falsehood to me when I thought about it.
So what do you think?
Edited to add: I was thinking about this more. When using reverse psychology, you are basically telling the child you want her to disobey you. Think about it. You are telling her NOT to do something in the hope that she will. In order to do what you WANT her to do, she has to DISOBEY what you have verbalized. Doesn’t that set a terrible precedence for her understanding obedience?