Never would I recommend that BISS be said in other than a kind, yet decisive tone of voice. It should not be screeched at a child, but then neither should anything else. But all of this may be moot, because after years of painstaking and highly secret research, I have discovered an alternative that is even shorter and, therefore, sweeter: “Trust me.”
Think of it! A child asks (demands to know) “Why?” or “Why not?” and the parent in question simply says “Trust me.” That pretty much says it all. Most important, it affirms that the parent knows what is best for the child, whatever the situation. The parent knows (but the child does not) that eating broccoli is better than eating deep fried processed proto-junk, that play should be balanced with household responsibilities, that “my friends all have one!” is not justification for buying a 12-year-old a cell phone, and so on.
Children do not know what is best for them. They only know what they want. And given the choice between what is best and what they want, they can be relied upon to choose the latter. Furthermore, when parents make the right choice for a child, there are no words under the sun that will cause the child to agree. The child will agree when he or she is an adult and is the parent of children who are demanding what they want. No sooner.
In the meantime, all one can do is ask the child to trust. To which someone might say, “But he won’t understand that either!” That’s all right. Faith is a long-term investment.
Family psychologist John Rosemond answers questions at www.rosemond.com.