A Doctor Answers: Is It Okay to Make Empty Threats to Your Child?

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Playing How Bad is it to Make Empty Threats to Your Kids?

Parenting -- it’s not easy. All parents make mistakes (let’s be honest -- probably multiple times per day) but how bad are they, really? Our audience members got a chance to quiz pediatrician Dr. Deborah Gilboa to find out.

Imagine this scenario -- your child isn’t listening so you say something ridiculous -- like, “I’ll leave you at home if you don’t cooperate.” Except, you know that you won’t or can’t follow through on that threat.

Dr. Gilboa says that this is not a good idea. Making empty threats erodes trust, she explains. “I need your daughter to trust you, to know that if you say you’re going to do something, because what she’s doing isn’t acceptable, you mean it.”

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The ramifications will be long-lasting, she says, “If you say you’re going to do something to help her or save her, when she’s 15 and she’s at a party and she doesn’t have a safe ride home, I want her to know that she can trust you.”

The solution, according to the doctor? “Start building your credibility now. Come up with a threat that you can actually carry out,” she says.

MORE: How Bad Is It for Kids to Skip Toothbrushing in the Morning?

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