It can be so nerve-wracking sometimes to get a child to go along with your agenda. There’s a point when you realize that they have their own stuff to do, and at times they don’t take very kindly to being ordered about, thankyouverymuch! (Just like us!)
Here are some tips that will help you to invite cooperation from the small people in your world, and will help to defuse conflict in the home (or even in the classroom or nursery).
1. Give advance notice – I know when I’m engrossed in some activity, I don’t really want to stop abruptly and be forced to move on to something else. You could say something like “just three more times down the slide, and then we have to go.” And then, even if you have to carry them away from the playground (sometimes you have to!), at least they knew it was coming. (By the way, I don’t generally give time limits, because toddlers aren’t very well known for their sense of time!)
2. Give options – Make sure those options (two or three things at most) are something that’s acceptable to you. If your daughter is showing a preference for certain clothing while you’re getting ready for church, for example, offer the choice of the blue dress or the purple dress. Then she can feel good because she participated in the selection.
3. Be specific – At clean up time, don’t just say, “it’s time to clean up!” Especially in group settings, most children will just look at you and keep going about their business. Give specific assignments. “Jayden, please pick up all the trucks” is something that is more likely to get a positive response. Or “Sophie, I need you to pick up all the blocks”.
4. Be direct – If it’s something that’s not optional, say so. Like, “please go sit down in the chair” rather than “can you sit down in the chair?” Asking instead of telling can be a difficult habit to break, but it’s important to pay attention to how you’re phrasing things. If you are technically asking rather than telling, you are more likely to hear “no!”
5. Paint a mental picture – I know there have been several times when I have told my son it was time to go somewhere and he was opposed to the idea. Sometimes it helps if I say, “we are going to go home now, and we’re going to make lunch, and then you will get to watch your video while mommy cleans up the kitchen.” It doesn’t always work, but it does for me more often than not. It’s also helpful to remind them that they will get to return to the park (or wherever) on another day. Sometimes it’s hard for young people to see ahead further than
I do believe there is a time to simply take authority, but I think that inviting a “yes” from our little ones and dealing gently with them as much as we can builds their confidence and teaches them responsibility.
How have you been successful in gaining cooperation from your young children? Share in a comment!
About the Author
Becky is a wife and mother of three young children who aims to rear them tenderly in the training and admonition of the Lord. She writes in Arizona at her blog, Happy Christian Home.