When it comes to getting your kids to do something they don’t want to do, there are basically three tactics you can employ: bribery, threats, and just giving up and doing it for them.
Doing it for them is obviously not the way to go. Detective Munch is lazy enough as it is; if I were to start waiting on him hand and foot (or waiting on him even more, which I guess would make it waiting on him hands and feet? COMEDY GOLD!), he’d probably end up with bed sores.
As most parents already know, bribery is a double-edged sword. It works, but you’re gonna pay for it down the line when the kid refuses to get out of bed without the promise of a new toy or some TV time, and eventually you’re buying him a new car just to get him to go to college.
Which leaves us with threats.
Threats definitely work, but only if you don’t mind being a big meanie, and if you make sure to actually follow through. And if you’re anything like me, that can be an issue. I have no problem being a big meanie, it’s kind of my thing, but when it comes to my son, I tend to throw empty threats around like a rapper making it rain at a strip club.
Here’s a list of some of my favorites.
My Five Favorite Empty Parenting Threats
- Keep it up and there will be no TV for you! – This would work, if letting the kid zone out in front of TV for 30-60 minutes wasn’t as relaxing for me as it is for him. I may hate most children’s programming, but I love having 30-60 minutes of peace. It’s usually all I get.
- I will call a babysitter right now! – This is typically deployed when we’re on a family outing and my son is acting like the devil. Obviously there is zero chance I’m going to call a babysitter out of the blue and drop an extra 75-100 bucks just because my son is being a punk. Also, there’s usually a decent shot he’ll be cool with it. My ego is fragile enough as it is, I can’t risk that he’ll actually call my bluff and prefer spending the day with the nineteen-year-old college student who always brings him comic books instead of Daddy.
- I will give that toy away/Throw that toy in the garbage! – There is almost no chance I’m going to give away or throw out what was undoubtedly an outrageously expensive toy (they all are). What am I, made of money? No, I’d put that sucker on eBay and watch the cash roll in! CHA-CHING! I said CHA-CHING! Stop crying, I can’t hear my imaginary cash register! Oh fine, here’s your damn toy back. God I suck at this.
- I will turn this car around! – Perhaps most well-known and also the emptiest threat of all. I doubt there’s a parent out there who hasn’t used – or won’t one day use – this old chestnut. For me, it’s an outright lie. Not that I care about wherever it is we’re going, it’s just that I’m MUCH more likely to drop my kid on the side of the road and keep driving towards the horizon, Don Draper style.
- No dinner, no dessert! – Also known as, “How can you eat your pudding if you don’t eat your meat?” To be totally honest, this one’s not entirely empty. It basically depends on what he’s having for desert, and whether or not I want it for myself.
This post originally appeared on Lifetime Moms