How To Get Your Young Child To Do What You Ask Without A Fight.
by Susie E. Caron (c) 10/5/2014
Parents, are you are struggling with children who delay, argue, break down, or whine, every time you ask them to do something? This article can help you to reach your child and get more cooperation.
Young children live in the moment. In order to easily get your child to do something, without opposition, you must take the time to first connect. It only takes a few minutes to get on the child’s level, to win him/her, and to insure a greater likelihood of agreement between you both. In fact, the best way to teach your child anything is to greet the child on his/her operating level at the moment.
What happens when you don't connect with your child first?
Kids live in their thoughts and emotions. When you don't recognize and validate whatever state your child is in, you will not be likely to get him or her to do what you are asking. Here is an example of that:
You want your child to put away the nice clean socks you just finished sorting for him. So with a smile on your face, you say, "Jimmy, please put away your socks." You found Jimmy playing the floor of his bed room, so you figure this is a reasonable request and it will only take a minute. To your surprise, Jimmy falls on the floor yelling something not easily translatable, and in a tantrum fit! It is likely that this makes you upset and you will get into a power struggle with Jimmy to try to get him to comply. Does this sound familiar?
I want to describe a bit more about the scene you entered.
When you walked into his room, Jimmy was smack dab in the middle of a very important offensive against the T-Rex. He was deep in thought about how to vanquish his enemies with his army of turtles when you strolled in and interrupted him. This is important. He was totally ready to accomplish his plan and you spoiled it! No wonder he erupted. With a little forethought you could have avoided interrupting him, prevented the tantrum and he would have put away his socks.
What happens when you do meet him 'in the moment'?
This time you walk into his room with the laundry and pause before speaking. Jimmy becomes curious, so after he finishes his thought , he looks up. You then say something like "Wow. This looks like very important play you are doing." He nods yes." (Note: This is a well-known sales technique: By getting a tiny ‘yes’ you increase the likely hood that the next answer will also be ‘yes.’ ) Next you say, "I am going to put these clothes away. Then I’ll come back to see you, so you can tell me what is happening in your play. After that, I'd like you to put away your socks." (Note: That's how you plant the seed for your request.) Jimmy nods ok, or shrugs and goes back to playing. (Notice that you just got a 2nd ‘yes’ because you validated that both he and his playing are important to you.) The whole exchange may take less than 1 minute.
What if you are in a rush?
Maybe you are thinking, "I cannot do that. I'm always in a rush." Let me ask you this: How long will it take for Jimmy to get through his tantrum? How much of a struggle will ensue, as you continue to try to get him to put his socks away? In fact, unless you connect with him, is it likely that the socks will never get put away by Jimmy, at all that day? If that happens, you and Jimmy have begun a pattern, which will look much the same throughout his teens, as well. However, by your respectful recognition of Jimmy and the importance of his play, you make the whole encounter go more smoothly and Jimmy becomes more willing to agree with you and do as you ask.
Here are some more benefits, when you take the time to connect with your child:
You are also establishing your right to expect that he/she does as you ask.
You are establishing respect as a way the two of you interact.
You are teaching him/her how to accomplish certain tasks and habits that will last a life time.
You are not setting up patterns of power struggles that do not benefit you or your child.
Additionally, when you set up encounters this way in early childhood, each encounter will actually take less time as your child grows older.
I hope you liked this article and will work to connect with your young child, so you can also experience more respect and cooperation. Please take a minute to comment below and share this information on your favorite social media sites. To make it easy you can click the icons at the top of this page.
Remember – Twee’ Means You & Me.
Susie E. Caron
Susie E. Caron MA,
Author, Blogger, Podcaster,
Christian, Wife, & Mother, helps build parent-child relationships, 1 blog, book & podcast at a time.
Welcome! I recently retired from combined careers in teaching, psychotherapy, and parent coaching to spend more time writing.
When I'm not busy creating books or articles, you might find me looking for dark chocolate or riding my beautiful horse Apple in the woods and fields of Vermont.
These articles are for educational and self-help purposes only and are not intended as psychotherapy.
If you experience unusual symptoms or discomfort please see your medical or mental health practitioner.
No patent liability is assumed for use of the information contained. The author disclaims any responsibility for loss or risk for use or application of this material.
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Blog Reviews & Thank You!
July 13 at 7:17pm ·
Just wanted to say that I love your posts about the different ways to connect/relate/understand your child. It has given me a new approach towards understanding my daughter and allowing HER to tell me how she feels instead of me suggesting to her how she should feel. Thanks Susie!