How to get your child to choose co-operation?

How to get your child to choose co-operation?

Children (especially toddlers) will nearly always do what they want to do, and they won’t do what they don’t want to do. 


This can be incredibly frustrating and often leads to parents be confused, cross and desperate. This can then lead to trying to force them to do something or it leads to an escalation in demands and threats. It makes sense, when stress levels are rising and it feels like control of the situation is trickling away parents try to grab onto it.  In turn, this then creates a power struggle which turns into a tantrum, yelling (parents and toddlers) and a bad morning all round.

If you’re reading this as a parent, I’m sure you’ll know what a morning looks like when your toddler does not want to get dressed or is not remotely interested in packing away their toys and you’re on a timeframe to get out the door. It can quickly spiral into a full blown battle where getting dressed will be the last thing your toddler wants to do.

So how do we get our children to want to do more of what we want them to do?

Here are the 3 things you need to do to increase co-operation:

1. Invite Co-operation. Avoid demanding. The more we demand behaviour from a child, the less likely they are going to be able to problem solve for themselves and be intrinsically motivated to do what you want them to do (remember they will always do what they want to do so we want to increase their motivation to do what we want).

Instead of “you have to get dressed now if you want to go to the park”

You could try
“we’re going to the park this morning would you like to get dressed before or after breakfast” or “I’m so excited to play on the park with you, the sooner we’re dressed the sooner we can go” or "WHEN you're dressed THEN we can..." 

Can you see how that totally transforms the tone, offers them some choice and control and is more likely to motivate them to co-operate?


2. Turn it into a game. Ah what better way to get co-operation than through play. Toddlers love to play, the sillier the better.

If your child struggles to leave the park when it’s time to go you could try turning the journey back to the car a game of chase or hide and seek, hiding behind the trees on the way.

This avoids marching your kicking, screaming child in a surfboard hold and then trying to wrangle them into a car seat only for them to scream the whole way home and make you feel reluctant to ever take them to the park again.

If you're wanting them to get dressed, you could put their shorts on your head or take hold of their socks and ask them to put their gloves on. 


3. Help them. This might seem a little too obvious, but the most common complaint I hear from parents is that their child just "won't..." and more often than not a little mindset shift to "can't" can be really helpful. Just because your child has done something before (such as get dressed, wash their hands, put the bowl in the sink) it doesn't mean that they will consistently be able to do this all the time. If your child is resisting doing something then help them out. 


Where to from here?

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