Getting kids to cooperate is a daily challenge for parents and as a parenting coach, I spend a lot of time coaching parents on how to get their kids to do that.
Today, however, I am going to approach it from the opposite spectrum and talk about ways that parents can pretty much guarantee that their children will not obey, or at the very least acquiesce with an attitude.
Stay away from these parenting habits if getting your kids to cooperate seems to be a problem in your home:
Gaining obedience only after repeated commands.
If you have to nag to get your kids to listen and cooperate, then you are training them to not respond unless you nag. Trying to get them to listen and do what you ask can be exhausting. Nagging can also harm your relationship with your child, causing resentment and making them feel like the only attention they get from you is negative. Nagging will turn you into a frustrated taskmaster.
My dad used to say that delayed obedience is actually disobedience. If your child is choosing to respond only after nagging, then they are basically choosing to “obey” on their terms, which is really not true cooperation.
Gaining obedience by threat of punishment or signs of anger.
Threats are easy, they come out of our mouths so automatically and you may even think that they work if they get a response from your child. However, the positive results you get from threatening your children with consequences are mostly short term.
Do any of these sound familiar?
- Getting the kids to turn off the video games and take a bath, so you threaten no video games tomorrow.
- Getting the kids to leave their friend’s house, and you threaten that next time they will not get to go.
- Getting kids to eat all their food, so you threaten them that they won’t get dessert.
- Getting the kids to do their chores, and threatening them with no screen time if they don’t.
The honest truth about threats is that they erode our relationship with our kids, teach our kids to only look for rewards, and block communication with our kids. And the harsh reality is that the difference between threats and consequences is that threats are usually empty because parents do not follow through.
Not backing up your requests.
If your requests have no consequences when they are ignored, or if the consequences you’ve established or not seen through, your kids will feel they can do whatever they want. It doesn’t matter if they do something wrong because nothing happens. There is no punishment or action that tells the child, what you just did is unacceptable. Giving children all love and support with no consequences and boundaries leads to behavior issues.
Implementing some consequences for misbehavior is a must if your kids are going to learn the importance of cooperating. It starts in the home and eventually transfers to school, work, and community.
Communicate the consequences to your child and make them as natural to the infraction as possible.
Allowing kids to argue with you to talk you out of/into something.
It’s important for your kids to feel heard and we always told our kids they could say anything they wanted to us, as long as it was said respectfully and not in a mean or derogatory way.
But there’s a difference between a child expressing their opinions or thoughts and trying to argue their way out of something or you into something.
When you’ve let your child calmly speak their piece, your response can be something like, “I hear you and I can certainly empathize with what you are saying, however, I’m still not going to allow it and I will hear no further arguments on the subject.”
When your child chooses to argue relentlessly, even after you’ve explained to them why the answer is NO, you must let them know that there’s no more room for discussion on the matter. Period. If they continue, there will be consequences (which of course you must follow through on).
Now, the reason for this is not to shut your kids up. It’s mostly to help them learn that there are boundaries in life and sometimes we just have to accept them, instead of fighting every authority we don’t like.
This frees you as a parent from constantly having to defend your decisions and actions.
If you honestly evaluate your parenting and decide that you may be employing some of these negative parenting tactics, just determine the opposite, more positive approach and stick with it. Even if you feel like it’s not working right away, stay on track. Parenting is an 18-year marathon, not a sprint.
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