Training the Badger

One area of parenting that we will concentrate on a lot is "training the badgers." 
These are the children whose plight it is to try and change your every direction, decision, and guidance through a series of badgering.

Common synonyms: to nag, harass, pester, constantly question, or irritate.

The common excuse many parents give for these children? "They are so persistent" (said in a somewhat flustered tone, yet desperately trying to convince themselves that persistence is good and that surely if they label this tiny badger as persistent that some good has to come out of it right?)

But, persistence is not the underlying positive characteristic. The underlying characteristic is a foolish heart (Proverbs) that is unwilling to submit to authority that God has placed over them to wisely govern and direct them. 

A child badgers when he asks his parents for something and doesn't get it upon his first asking. The problem in the scenario of this tiny badger is not the badger himself, but the parents. A parent gives their answer to a question and a child continues to ask, or better yet, phrases the question differently every time to try and "disguise" their disobedience by continually asking. This often goes unchecked and the parent remains continually frustrated and exhausted from all the badgering. If a child is doing this, it is apparent that sometimes it works, which is why they do it. If a child learns that they NEVER get what they are seeking by badgering, they won't badger. The parents either train them to badger, or train them not to badger.

The big underlying question: who will be the most persistent in adhering to their side of the conflict? The parent or the child? If it's the child, you have just begun to train a badger.

The biggest problem in giving your child an answer, having them badger, and then you changing your mind, is that you are sending the complete wrong message. The child does not see the answer as a result of their parent's wisdom and discernment, and role of authority in their life, but rather, they see the answer as being a result of their badgering. Therefore, they don't come to understand that their parents give answers and requests based on what is right and what is good for them. "No parent can have the truest respect of a child, while the child knows that he can badger that parent into compliance with the child's request, contrary to the parent's real or supposed conviction" (H. Clay Trumbull).

Sometimes a parent answers a child's request too quickly, without all the information. The child begins to badger and after they get all the information the parent realizes they did not have all the necessary information and decided to change their mind. You are still training a badger. Again, the child feels his badgering won you to his side, not the fact that you changed your mind based on your own good judgment of the situation (whether you tell them that or not).

So how to alleviate that?
  • Do your thinking before you give an answer
  • Make sure you fully understand the situation before you answer
  • Question the child if necessary to get more information before answering
  • Make sure that you know all you need to know to give an answer that your child accepts as final, the first time
  • Follow through on requiring that your child does not badger you. This has to happen every single time. Children love a good gamble... if they've gotten away with it once, they will try and try again knowing it's possible to get away with again at some point. 


Julie said...

We call Sosi "badger" for different reasons--perhaps we should call her "coyote" or "fox in heat" when she releases her bone-chilling cries and leave "badger" for whining and pestering! Either way, we don't want any of the above-mentioned animals in our home. :)


this is very good!!!!! thanks.

Amy said...

I am trying to train my yeti---he sheds a lot of hair and refuses to use the litter box!