Parents often argue about the best way to get their children to do what they ask them. Regardless of the approach, negotiations and power struggles will ensue, and you’ll feel defeated at times, but how do you win the overall battle and ultimately, get them to do what you want?
Make sure your child knows what you’re asking them to do and how to complete the task. Get them to repeat back to you exactly what you’ve asked them to do, to make sure there is no miscommunication or confusion. Children need clarity.
Enough empty threats and your child will learn you’re not serious about consequences and discipline. Inconsistency and empty threats can actually exacerbate bad behavior, because the child pushes the boundaries and reacts to your mixed messages. If you say something, follow through on implementing it. That way, your child clearly knows what’s expected of them, and learns to foresee consequences.
Having a stable daily routine can help children to feel more secure and relaxed because they can expect what’s coming next. Getting them to complete simple tasks like brushing their teeth or taking a nap is easier because they are reinforced every day at specific times.
When a child feels out of control or unable to predict what’s going to happen, they can become anxious and act out. Not only does it help children in the moment, but it also allows them to develop healthy habits and self-management in later life.
Children want and need your approval and praise so be sure to regularly praise good behavior. The occasional reward doesn’t hurt either, but make sure it doesn’t turn into large-scale bribery. Knowing what your child likes and rewarding them with it every so often can prove to be a good incentive. Using reward charts can also help to create records for you and a visual for them.
Similar to the way rewards work, taking away privileges can make your children reconsider their behavior to make sure they don’t lose what they like. Know what your child likes, and let them know they won’t be able to have it or do it if they misbehave.
That way, your child learns that when they do something bad, they lose something good. This can be as simple as taking away their computer rights, or not allowing them to go to a friends birthday party.
Decide you’re going to do whatever it takes. Use a firm voice, carry out rules, be persistent, and don’t be a pushover. You don’t have to be aggressive or bullying; they just need to know their bad behavior makes you angry or disappointed.
Let your child know why something is right or wrong, and encourage empathy and moral values. Help them to understand how someone else feels when they act a certain way. Children can naturally feel like the world revolves around them and be unaware of how their actions could impact others.
Explain this to them in simple terms, such as asking them how they would feel if someone hurt them in that way. You don’t want them to just fear discipline; you want them to develop empathy and values for later life.
Sarah Murdoch is a writer, and is an author on the topics of parenting and raising children. She is the mother of two young boys and a girl.