How to Get Your Kids to Do What You Want Them To Do

Please pick up your toys — It’s time to get ready for bed;—Would you please put your phone down and look at me when I’m speaking to you? — I need help setting the table for dinner. Help please — Please bring your laundry basket to the laundry room so I can wash your clothes— It’s time to stop watching your screen and start doing your homework

And the list could go on and on and on.

How many times during the course of the day do you ask your child to please do what you have asked him to do? First you ask politely, then you ask with more urgency in a sharper voice tone, until eventually you are nagging, pleading or shouting at your child to please comply with your request.

Does this feel like Peaceful Parenting? Does this continuous exchange between you are your child feel loving or like it enhances your relationship?

Let me give you some immediate strategies that can help:

Be sure you have your child’s attention before you make your request. Ask her to look at you, look you in the eyes.

Give your child a warning about the request or help you want. Start with a 10 minute warning, then repeat it with only 5 minutes remaining.

Make your request clear, short and specific without complaining about your child’s lack of previous compliance.

Ask for your child’s agreement: Are you ready to help? Are you willing to do this now? When will you do what I’ve asked?

Engage your child in a conversation to agree on a new process you develop together to  maintain harmony regarding requests and compliance.

With these tips as your instruction manual, let me explain more about this process and the reasons behind the Peaceful Parenting process.

Let’s start by putting the shoe on the other foot. Right now you are sitting, reading this newsletter and concentrating to understand and improve your parenting job. Your child yells at you to ask you to complete a chore for him. Would you immediately stop reading, get up and do what is asked? Or would you tell your child you will be there in a minute?

Is it possible that when you are finished doing what you are presently doing that you might forget that your child made a request of you? Is it possible that you wouldn’t do what was asked of you simply because you were preoccupied and forgot?

Now think back to the last time you asked your child to please do something, like put her back pack away, practice his instrument, or put on her jacket. Was your child doing anything else at the time you made the request? Was he simply waiting for you to make this request? Or was he involved with some other activity important to him?

As a parent you have a clear picture in your head of where you are headed, what you want to do and how you want it done. This often includes your child doing what you need her to do so you can keep moving in the direction of getting done what you want so ultimately you can arrive at your goal. If these targets include your children you want them to comply, cooperate and help you. Your children are not just standing around doing nothing, waiting for your instructions however. Your children are busy and engaged in their own lives, activities and aims.

And just like with you, there are times when your child is doing something important that has his attention fully engaged. Your child answers your request to help me now please or get ready for school, or some other request. But your child is so focused on what she is doing she may forget that you asked something and that she has agreed to do it.

With this in mind you hopefully better understand why it is important to:

Give your child a 10 minute then a 5 minute warning that you are going to need him to stop doing what he is presently doing and start doing what you ask

Ask your child to look you in the eyes to be sure you have her full attention

Next, make your request clear, short and specific without complaining about your child’s lack of  previous compliance.

Too often parents make one request that involves three or more steps. For some people, especially children who are learning to complete tasks and chores, this is too much information. Have you ever heard the suggestion to break you big tasks or projects into smaller, more doable steps to increase success and completion? The same principle applies when asking your child to complete a chore or task.

For instance, rather than asking your child to clean his room, ask your child to put all his clean clothes away then come see you. Next ask her to please put all her dirty clothes into the hamper, then come see you. Next ask him to please pick up all his books and put them back in the book shelves then come see you, etc. Start this kind of a process with your children when they are young. Then you can graduate to ask for completion of two steps, then come see you, followed by combining another two steps. Finally your child will be old enough, and accomplished enough that she can clean her room knowing all of the steps involved.

Make your request clear, short and specific without complaining about your child’s lack of previous compliance.

Complaining about your child’s previous lack of compliance is done in attempt to get your child to comply this time. Generally this strategy not only doesn’t work, it hurts relationships; the relationship your child has with you and the relationship your child has with himself.

Ask for your child’s agreement: Are you ready to help? Are you willing to do this now?

When will you do what I’ve asked?

Asking your child to agree and commit helps you know that she is hearing you, understanding the task or request, and that she is agreeing to comply. Following this step does not guarantee that your child will comply. It does increase the chances that this will be true.

What if your child has heard you, understands the request, and still does not comply?

This next and final step should do the trick. However, you don’t have to wait for lack of cooperation before you implement this strategy.

Engage your child in a conversation to agree on a new process you develop together to maintain harmony regarding requests and compliance.

My child doesn’t listen is a complaint I frequently hear from parents that is directly related to this strategy. Would you be surprised to learn that you child often does hear you, he just doesn’t agree with you.

The same may be true for children who are not doing what you ask or are not complying. They may not agree with the request.

It wasn’t until my son was sixteen-years old when he told me, “Sometimes I’m just about to do something you’ve asked me to do then you remind me again to do it. I end up feeling nagged, like you don’t trust me and won’t let me do things my own way and in may own time. I feel less like doing what you’ve asked then.”

That certainly was a lesson for me. How many 3-years old, or 7-years old or pre-teens do you know who would be able to express and explain that to their parents? There are more than a few adults who couldn’t share that same kind of frustration with their boss or spouse!

The idea behind this final strategy is related to a Peaceful Parenting process that has been explained in other newsletters, articles and books.

We want to work with our children to work out our differences and create a process where together we are solving problems, creating respectful strategies to respectfully work together.

Here are the steps of the process:

  1. Together you each describe the problem and your hoped-for solutions.

Mom: There are times I want your help to get tasks done, chores completed and your cooperation in getting to bed, to the dinner table and out the door. If things went as I want them to, you would do what I ask you to do when I ask you to do it.

Child: I know there are things you want me to do. Sometimes I’m okay with that. Sometimes I don’t want to be interrupted with what I’m doing. And sometimes I just don’t even want to do it, like cleaning my room. What I want is more time to get to complete the chore or task than you give me. And I want to work out a compromise where cleaning my room means leaving it more messy than you like.

  1. Begin brainstorming possible solutions.

Mom: How can we get where we each want to go? Let’s start talking about when I make general requests. Let’s solve the clean room problem after that.

Child: Give me a warning, like you do. And I’ll tell you back if I can do it now, or in a few minutes.

Mom: What should I do if I ask after giving you a warning, you tell me you’ll do it in 10 minutes. Then 10 minutes later you still haven’t done it.

Child: I don’t know

Mom: How about if I ask you when you will do what I task?

Child: How about you ask IF I will do what you ask? Mostly I will, I promise. But there are sometimes I’m in the middle of something important.

Mom: I’m willing to give that a chance as long as you refusing to do the task because you’re “busy” doesn’t happen too frequently.

Child: Deal

* Make a specific plan to implement for a specific period of time then review to evaluate and modify as needed.

From here Mom and child will go on to tackle the clean room issue.

You can use his process with your child, no matter the child’s age. Of course if your child is very young, your requests are few. It’s also the perfect time to start practicing this process for later when you child is older and you will need to use it more frequently.

This is a valuable skill for family harmony. Help your children learn to “work things out together” where solutions are respectful to all people, and include each person’s quality world picture. Not only are you helping with family relations, you are also teaching your child a life-long skill in human relations.

Want more help? Join me for this free webinar hosted by Denver Natural Mom!

FREE Webinar

Free Webinar
February 17, 2016

“How To Get Your Kids To Do
What You Want Them To Do”

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