Getting children to do what they’ve been asked can be totally infuriating! “She just won’t listen!” Or “I’m sure my son hears me but totally ignores me!” Being a parent is such a hard job at times but there are things that we can do, as parents, to help teach cooperation and here are my top tips. I hope they prove useful to you.
1. Develop a family belonging
If you want your children to cooperate, you need to start developing that from a very young age. Toddlers can help you put their toys away so be super positive about this task. “Can you help mummy put your toys away?” Take turns. “One toy for mummy, one toy for you.” Encourage that ‘helping stage’ when your toddler wants to help mop or polish. This will help your children learn to share and cooperate from a young age. This expectation will then become part of the way your family works and develop a sense of family belonging.
2. Keep it simple and positive
Wherever possible, make requests positives, especially with toddlers. For example, “Let’s keep the sand in the tray.” Here the child will hear the instruction. If you say, “don’t put the sand on the floor,” then your child hears sand and floor and may put the sand on the floor! Keep it simple and keep it positive. As your child grows, try to ignore certain negative behaviours and focus on the positives. This will mean your child will feel rewarded by your praise and so will want to please you. If your child always plays up at dinner time, try to ignore as much as this behaviour as possible but praise even the smallest example of what you want. For example, if your child eats a mouthful of food using their fork (if that’s what you would like them to do), praise them. To develop cooperation, give praise for specifics such as, “thank you for putting your plate in the sink, I can now wash it up.” Positives don’t always come naturally as they can sound false at first but your child will respond to kindness.
3. Give positive requests rather than commands.
Instead of saying, “put your shoes on,” tell you child it’s time to go out. Give them the choice of which shoes they can wear if possible. Sometimes, these positive requests won’t work (and it’s always when we are in a rush!) but by remembering these techniques, you will develop cooperation hopefully when it’s needed. Make it part of your routine. If children feel like they are being barked at all the time, they will resist against it. Speaking to children in a kind way will help them to be kind themselves which is surely the greatest gift we can give our children.
4. Give choices whilst keeping your requests.
If your child is stubborn or Is going through a challenging stage, give them choices but keep them within what you want your child to do. For example, your child has to brush their teeth so give them the choice of brushing them now or after their story. They do need to brush them after their story though! Or, “do you want to wear the blue or red T-shirt.” All these choices will build respect and cooperation. Let the small things go so if they want to wear their princess outfit all the time, let them. This is not important in the scheme of things and it will make your child feel as if they have choices.
5. Let your child problem solve.
If your child will not cooperating with you, talk to them about it. “You know we don’t write on the walls but where can you draw?” Let them see that some choices are not good but there may be an alternative. “I know you don’t want to eat your carrots, which vegetable would you like to try?”
I am a parent and I have been in the situation when your child repeatedly fights you on everything! It’s very tricky to stay calm and patient. However, that is exactly what you should try to do as the tricky stage does pass; I promise!