How to Get Your Kids to Cooperate Without Bribes or Threats
We read a lot in this house. We read together so much that large piles of books seem to appear just about everywhere — even on the kitchen table. In a perfect world, we would put each book back on the shelf before choosing a new one, but we're not perfect around here. At times, the piles have a way of fading into the backdrop of our lives — they're part of us — until that one moment when one of us finally feels overwhelmed by the clutter. Then the piles have to go. Immediately.
“Do I have any librarians here today?” With a single, upbeat question, two eager “librarians” run toward me. Ten minutes later, the books are organized and filed away for a later date.
Clever word choice and a positive attitude can make a big difference when it comes to engaging kids in a cooperative manner. In other words, try to make things fun.
Yes, parenting can be hard and tiring at times, but if a positive attitude on the part of the parent sets the tone for happiness and cooperation within in the home, isn't it worth finding ways to remain positive?
Parents often seek my assistance when they feel overwhelmed and exhausted. The kids are fighting constantly; the house feels like a bottomless pit of clutter; no one listens or follows directions. Ever. When parents come to me in this state of muted frustration, I often recommend a reset. Sometimes you need to dig out the old emotions, work through them, and start over.
While it's tempting to hand out lollipops and gum or threaten the loss of a favorite toy or the beloved television every time you want the house picked up, it's better to hit the reset button and approach your family with a positive attitude and clear expectations. Optimism and positivity inspires a lifetime of cooperation, where bribes and threats really only work on a case-by-case basis.
Give and Get
Parents spend a fair amount of time stating expectations and asking kids to do things. Kids spend a fair amount of time being told what to do and when to do it. Stop and think about that for a minute. If you spend your days barking out orders, and your children spend their days begrudgingly following those orders (or trying to avoid them), is your communication style working?
Cooperation is a two-way street. You have to give a little if you want to get.
Listen to your children. Be present and attentive when they communicate their ideas and needs. When kids feel that their parents are responsive to their emotional needs, they are more likely to be responsive to their parents.
Keep It Positive
When we need to clear the clutter to make room for more fun, we always play to strengths and interests. Instead of handing out a list of tasks that need doing, I pump up the happy music and call out questions. “Who is great at organizing toys?” will always send my daughter running, while, “Do I have any sweepers in the house?” gets my son moving.
Keep it fun and be playful to avoid stress, meltdowns, and negativity.
Engaging your children in tasks, be it helping with the grocery shopping or picking up the house, gives kids a sense of responsibility. It feels good to be helpful, and kids respond to positivity.
Keep Calm and Be Clear
Young children tend to be literal thinkers. They also shut down in the face of yelling and sarcasm. While young children can be impulsive, and this makes keeping calm a difficult task, they do respond to calm, clear, and concise directions.
Before you start listing what needs to be done to get out the door on time, try to remember this: If you confuse them, you'll lose them.
Be enthusiastic, state your needs clearly, and listen to their follow-up questions.
Focus on the End Result
Sometimes, kids don't cooperate because they have trouble seeing the potential benefits of helping with any given task when they have better things to do, like play. Highlight the end results before you begin your task so that kids know what they're trying to accomplish.
“If we clean up the family room, we will have room to get out the train tracks and build a city” helps kids understand perspective. When they clean, they make room for more fun. When they shop, they get to help cook a yummy meal with fresh food.
A predictable routine makes for a positive home environment. Sure, change happens, and we all need to learn how to bend, but predictability at home helps kids feel calm and in control.
Routines take the guesswork out of the day and decrease overall frustration in the home. Take a look at your daily routines. Evaluate for success and figure out what needs tweaking.
What inspires cooperation in your kids?Read More