When my son entered into his terrible two’s a little over a year ago, I started a series based on the Dr. James Dobson book, The Strong-Willed Child. You can read parts one, two, and three if you want to catch up (or can’t get enough of how to work through the frustrations of a strong-willed child).
With the exception of his stubborn resistance to potty training, his behavior has drastically improved in the past few months. However, I received an email the other day from Marcia Hall at GoNannies.com about how to gain your child’s cooperation without yelling, and I thought it was worth sharing. I’ve learned that modeling the correct behavior is just as much of a struggle for me as good behavior is for my son at times. (I guess he gets it from his strong-willed momma.) It’s so easy to lose my patience and want to force my son to behave, but anyone with a child knows you can’t force a person to do anything. They have to want to behave, like the joke from the movie The Break Up.
Now I’m not implying that husbands should be talked to as a small child, or that Jennifer Aniston could have used these tips in dealing with Vince Vaughn…but that’s a whole other topic for another blog post. If you are looking for get your child to cooperate without losing your cool, here are the tips from GoNannies.com:
How to Gain Your Child’s Cooperation Without Yelling
By Marcia Hall
When you get frustrated at your child because she’s not listening to you or doing what she’s supposed to do, it’s easy to lose your cool and start yelling. However, yelling can have adverse effects on your child, including her starting to fear you. There are other ways to get your child to cooperate without raising your voice.
Always Back It Up
When you lay down an edict without backing it up with some kind of consequences for choosing not to listen, there will be no reason for your child to stop. It doesn’t have to be anything terrible, but your kids need to know that you mean what you say the first time you say it. If you say “stop” and then ignore them until the next time you look up from what you’re doing, your child will perceive that you did not really mean it and that he still has some wiggle room before getting into serious trouble. So, before it escalates to yelling at your child for defying you, try speaking firmly, looking him in the eye and laying down the law.
Instead of demanding that he stop his behavior several times before you make a move, back it up as soon as they don’t listen. This will teach them that they should pay attention to you the first time you speak instead of waiting around until they know you’re about to snap. In time, the habits of your child will change to reflect this new way you speak to him. He will start to listen right away and stop trying to push your buttons when he realizes he can’t let it get that far out of control anymore.
Don’t Wait for Them
Repeating yourself will not help your children understand that they need to be listening to you. Just like a broken record, eventually you tune it out because it’s just the same thing over and over again. Expect the same behavior from your kids.
Don’t wait for your children to “catch on.” They may be too young to understand that their behavior is not acceptable by simply hearing you ask them to stop time and again. If it is something like cleaning up after themselves, don’t ask them several time before giving up and completing the task yourself. It may take a little longer, but make sure they understand they have to do it right away. First, state what you want them to do, then say why, then repeat what you want them to do and emphasize it needs to be done now. Now, here’s the tough part: watch them do it. Eventually you won’t have to do that last part, but until they catch on that you mean what you say when you say it, you’ll have to make sure they do it.
Clarity is Best
Do you do something if someone asks you if you’d like to, even though you really don’t? Your kids won’t choose to either. Keep the questions short, sweet and clear. Tell them exactly what they need to do, not what you would like them to do or what they should do. For example, don’t say, “It would really be nice if you would help your father set the table for dinner.” Instead say, “Please set the table. Dinner is almost ready.” The reason behind your request is clear and the request itself is clear as well.
Reward Work with Play
Getting your kids to cooperate can be as simple as telling them they can do something they really enjoy when they are finished with the chore. Gift your child with a few extra minutes of playtime after an unpleasant task is completed. It’s very important to make sure your children understand that the fun comes second and the work comes first. They need to realize that the thing they want to do can only happen when they listen to you and get the chore done.
Take a Deep Breath
Keeping calm is key. When your children are not listening to you and you are starting to get frustrated, it’s easy to just lose it. If you feel yourself getting to the point of yelling, just stop, take a deep breath and start over. No one likes to be yelled at and your kids are no exception. So, above all else, keep your cool. It’s not always easy to keep a grip on your temper, but the payoff for managing the task is a yelling-free, peaceful household.