Parenting Vivian | 07 Feb 2011 05:00 pm

Getting the Cooperation of Your Kids

Children like to have things their own way. This is true of adults also. Children, however, come to live in their parents’ homes and not the other way around. Children also need to learn how to get along with others, so they can have happier lives as they get older.

Before parents can garner the cooperation of their children in any endeavor, they need to know what their children are capable of. They should study what experts on child development have said, and parents should also study their own children. For a long time children will be naturally clumsy, messy and forgetful. A parent’s expectations for their child’s cooperation in any endeavor needs to be tempered by realistic expectations. To put it simply, kids will be kids.

If a parent is not careful they may find themselves saying “no” or “stop” a thousand times a day. This can be counter-productive because a child may not know what they should be doing right instead. This road will lead to frustration for parent and child. A parent should regard themselves as their child’s teacher. They should offer a child alternatives or choices to replace the undesirable behavior. There is also a negative effect with saying “no” too much that a child will begin to ignore the parent when they speak. Parents should be consistent about saying some things that are worthwhile for the child to pay attention to. If you know that your child cannot or will not deliver on what you are saying to them then be quiet. If a parent cannot do this, then they will not be taken seriously at all by their children.

I have seen mothers in the grocery store saying “Johnny, don’t do this” or “Johnny, don’t do that” over and over, and the child is totally ignoring the mother. Why should he not ignore his mother? She never takes any action to get his cooperation. Parents need to be completely consistent in making sure that Johnny attempts to do what is expected of him. If they don’t, they are doing worse than wasting their breath. They are training their children to ignore them. Parents should either follow-through or hold their tongue.

Whenever possible situations should be resolved in a win-win for the parent and child. If the parent’s objective is to get the child dressed and the child is resisting for some reason, start giving him some choices. Do you want to wear the Elmo shirt or the Big Bird shirt? Maybe the child is just trying to have some more say-so over his fate. Maybe the child runs away because they desire more playtime with the parent. It is not about who wins. Put on a smile and chase your child down with a growl like a monster. If they get a more playful attitude out of the parent when they are craving play, the children will cooperate better with the dressing. Then both child and parent win.

As children learn to listen to their parents and take instructions from them, it will be easier to have their cooperation. As they grow, children can be reasoned with. They can begin to understand the reasons behind the rules. Parents, too, can enjoy this time of being their child’s first and best teacher.

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