It’s the mother of all empty threats. Your child refuses to get off the monkey bars and leave the playground, and you shout, “OK, bye! I'm leaving!” and start hustling towards the exit. Do we all do it? Yes. Does it work? Not really. Should you keep doing it? No, says Kristene Geering, director of education for Parent Lab, since it can actually do more harm than good.
Here's why: It’s fear-based.
“Many adults likely experienced similar moments with their parents when they were kids, not because their parents thought it was a fabulous idea to frighten their children, but because it’s a tactic they knew from their own upbringing—so they used it,” Geering explains.
But the part they didn’t know is how critical safety is for children. Per Geering, when kids experience feelings of safety and security, the working model they have is that the world is a safe place, which allows them the freedom to explore, learn and grow. If they start to lose that feeling, their brains do the opposite. “They will literally start to wire in a way that makes them more reactive, which can translate into having more anxiety, being more clingy and in extreme cases, negatively impacting their overall development.”