Children who feel like they are in control of their own actions are more incline to do what you ask them to do. This also makes them feel empowered and confident that you trust them enough to make their own decisions. When your child refuses to listen to a simple request, share control with them and give them two options to choose from that have the same end-results.
Here are a few scenarios to help you get a better idea of giving two options that have the same end-results:
- Clean-up time: Before asking your child to clean-up their toys, make sure you give them a fair warning prior to them ending their play. For example, “Johnny after you are done building your tower we will need to start cleaning up your blocks”. If Johnny refuses to clean-up his blocks after he is done building with them you give him your two options: “Johnny you can clean-up the blocks by yourself or I can come and help you. What do you choose?”
- Having your child stay close to you in public: Running errands can be taxing especially when your child likes to wonder away from you. To avoid this situation, set your expectations before you enter into the store or run your errands. For example, “Johnny, mom needs to buy a few things for dinner tonight. I want you to stay close to me while we are shopping so you can either sit inside the shopping cart or hold my hand. What do you want to do?”
- Brushing teeth: Bedtime routines can often feel drawn out, but the more you stick with a set routine the easier it will be. Children function better when they know what to expect so if your child brushes their teeth after they bathe try sticking to that schedule. If your child is refusing to brush their teeth you can say: “Johnny you need to brush your teeth so do you want mommy to help you or daddy to help you tonight?”
Sharing control with you child takes patience and sometimes you may need to sit there and repeat yourself over and over again until they answer you. Remember to pick and choose your battles and set realistic options for your child (stick with only giving two options). If you child continues to ignore your simple request you can give them another set of options: “if you don’t choose what you want to do, I will choose for you, do you want me to choose for you or can you choose for yourself?” Ultimately getting the end-result is the goal so think of creative options that would entice your child to share control.
By Jamie Brown - Former Preschool Teacher, then Director, and now Parent & Consultant for EastBayPreschools.com
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