Guilty of Making Empty Threats



photo by LelandsMommy

I know I'm not the only person guilty of threatening to throw all of the toys in the garbage; but I've gone so far as getting out a new garbage bag and tossing dinosaurs, 3-wheeled cars and a few Diegos in, all to the screams of suddenly desperate kids. I'll do almost anything to get my point across when I'm at my breaking point--when I've had enough of tripping over my sons' stuff and fruitlessly begging them to pick it up.


Sure, I've been warned about empty threats. But with a 3 and 5-year-old I still enjoy moderate success with the "throw-the-toys-in-the-garbage" one; first they cry (which is how I know there's a chance they believe me), and then they slowly start to put their stuff away.

But I admit, the dinosaurs have a way of finding their way back on the stairs in no time. A day after one of my rants, my introspective 5-year-old said matter-of-factly, "Mom, you didn't throw our stuff out." You don't say, smarty pants. I have a feeling that in the near future, I'm going to have to either follow through or change tactics.

I like what Parental Advisor, Robert Schachter, a New York City-based psychologist and faculty member of Mount Sinai School of Medicine says about empty threats on "It's not a question of good or bad, it's a question of will it work or not?" As far as I'm concerned, that is the only means by which to measure an empty threat.

Do you make empty threats? Do they work?

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