Your Kids To Cooperate
By Elizabeth Pantley
"How can I get my kids to cooperate with me? I'm constantly
nagging and complaining, not that it does any good! It seems like
it starts in the morning and doesn't end until they are all asleep.
I get so frustrated, I really don't know what to do. Help!"
is the number one complaint of parents around the globe. It's a
biggie - purely because there are so many things we must get our
kids to do (or not do!). If you're waiting for your child to start
cooperating of his own free will - you might want to pack a lunch.
Things won't change on their own. It takes consistent, effective
parenting skills to change your children's behavior and to encourage
your children to cooperate, willingly, on a regular basis. It will
take practice, patience and persistence on your part. Once you've
made a few changes in your approach, you'll find that you're no
longer praying for bedtime, but actually enjoying your children.
specific: Don't make general comments that hint at what you
would like done, such as, "It would be nice if somebody helped
me clean up." Don't make it sound as if compliance is optional
by starting your sentence with "Will you? Could you? Would
you?" or ending your sentence with, "Okay?" Make
your request clear, short and specific, "Please put your dishes
in the sink and wash the table." or "It's six o'clock.
Gather your homework and come to the table." Practice making
clear statements that clearly identify what you need or that describe
the problem without elaboration and lecturing.
Priorities: Use the "When/Then" technique, also known
as Grandma's Rule. This method simply lets your child know the sequence
of his priorities. Work first/Play second. This also prevents the
battles that occur when you specify the Work first part, without
including the Play second part! So change the directive, "No!
You can't play the computer, you have homework to do!" to the
more pleasant: "When you have finished your homework, then
you may play your new computer game." Instead of "Put
that book down and go put on your pajamas!" to: "As soon
as your pajamas are on, we'll read a book." Avoid saying, "Where
are you going? Get in here and do these dishes!" to "The
minute the dishes are washed, you can go out and ride your bike."
more choices: Offer your child a choice, "Would you like
to sweep the floor or dry the dishes?" You can also use a sequence
choice, such as, "What would you like to do first, put on your
pajamas or brush your teeth?" Another way to use choice is
the time-focused choice, "Would you like to start at 8:00 or
8:15?" If a child creates his own third option, simply say,
"That wasn't one of the choices" and re-state your original
statement. If a child refuses to choose, you choose for him. It's
important that when you give your child a choice that he learn to
live with the consequences of his decision. So if your little run
is running amok in the grocery store, you can say, "You have
a choice. You can walk beside me or ride in the cart." The
minute he takes off you can pick him up, put him in the cart and
say, "I see you've decided to ride in the cart."
up: Use humor to gain cooperation. A bit of silliness can often
diffuse the tension and get your child to cooperate willingly. It
also can help you feel better about your day. And it also helps
you keep your perspective. So many of the daily issues between parent
and child don't warrant a major battle, many can be handled in a
more cheerful way with better results.
calm: Avoid letting your emotions take control. Don't yell,
threaten, criticize or belittle. Instead, ask yourself a question,
"What is the problem?" Then, make a statement of fact,
such as, "There are dirty dishes and snack wrappers in the
TV room." Pause. Be silent. And stare at your children. It's
amazing that kids will know exactly what you're thinking. Most often,
they'll respond by cleaning up. If not, back up your approach with
one of the other solutions.
knowledge and skills: Read parenting books and learn new skills.
Raising children is a complicated job. There are times when every
parent and caregiver can use some help. There are many books available
to parents to help get through the day-to-day issues you face with
your children. In the vast assortment of books and articles about
parenting, you should be able to find ideas for just about any problem
or issue you are currently dealing with. Every child is different,
and every parent is different. Because of this, there are no cookie-cutter
solutions that will work for everyone. I suggest that you review
all the solutions you discover and take a few quiet minutes to think
about them. Modify the suggestions to best suit your family, and
don't be afraid to try out more than one until you discover your
Pantley is the author of Kid Cooperation and Perfect Parenting.
Excerpted with permission by NTC/Contemporary Publishing Group Inc.
from Perfect Parenting, The Dictionary of 1,000 Parenting Tips
by Elizabeth Pantley, copyright 1999.