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6 Secrets to Getting Kids to Cooperate

6 Secrets to Getting Kids to Cooperate

As the parent of a preschooler, I often notice myself feeling frustrated and asking myself, “Why won’t she cooperate?!” If you have a young child at home, I know you understand. There are times when I’m tired or hungry or in a rush and I just want my daughter to do exactly as I say instantly without questioning, avoiding, or delaying. What I’ve noticed is that as soon as I get attached to things going a certain way, my daughter has different ideas. I can understand why.

Nobody likes to be forced to do anything.

Not even young kids. Or maybe especially not young kids. I mean, toddlers and preschoolers are just developing their will and learning to act independently of us. So, of course they’re going to push back when we thrust our will upon them.

As a preschool teacher and now as a mom, I’ve discovered that there are certain things I can do that greatly increase the chances that kids will cooperate with me. Here are the 6 secrets to getting kids to cooperate that have worked like a charm for me:

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1. Invite, don’t demand.

We all want our children to “ask nicely,” but the truth is, that’s easier said than done. My question is, where do you think they learned to be demanding and inflexible? Oh yeah, from us! If we want our kids to cooperate, then we’ve got to be the bigger, more mature ones and lead by example. Contrary to popular belief, asking nicely, inviting, and working together to find a solution to a problem doesn’t teach children to be more defiant or disobedient, instead, by doing these things you’re laying a foundation of trust and teamwork that your kids will soon learn to rely on.

Use this quick test to figure out whether your request is actually a demand. Ask yourself, “Would it be OK if they answered ‘no’ to this request?” If not, then you’re not actually inviting or asking, you’re demanding or requiring a specific behavior. That’s OK some of the time, especially if safety is an issue, but remember, the more demands you make on your kids, the less true, internally motivated cooperation you’re likely to get.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t have expectations of your children. It’s just that when those expectations aren’t met, it’s helpful to see that as an opportunity to problem solve together, rather than an excuse to punish them into submission.

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2. Turn it into a game.

Kids love to play. When you can make something fun, they’re far more likely to get on board. This does require some creativity and spontaneity on your part. When your child refuses to leave the park, can you find a way to make getting to the car more fun? Maybe you’ll pretend you’re firefighters and you have to jump into the firetruck to go put out the fire. Or perhaps you’ll race, or hop like a bunny, or offer a ride on your shoulders. Making things more fun isn’t just a great way to gain your child’s cooperation, it’s also a way to enjoy your time with them more. I mean, which would you prefer, a power struggle where you force your child kicking and screaming into his car seat or a fun game in which he climbs in willingly?

If you’re not sure what kind of a game will work best, tune in to your child’s interests. If she loves princesses, then you’ll be her knight in shining armor or her trusty steed. If he’s into trucks, you can ask if he wants to be fork-lifted into the car. Or maybe you’ve just read a story about a friendly fish, so try acting it out! If you just can’t seem to come up with an idea, ask your child what to play. Most kids are more than ready with a suggestion for a fun game or activity that you can alter slightly to fit your agenda.

3. Stop repeating yourself.

This is a mistake we all make, especially when we’re not getting the results we want. Trust me that repeating yourself is the last thing you want to do if you’re trying to foster cooperation. Your child heard you the first time, and by repeating yourself, you’re simply training her to stop listening and wait for you to get frustrated before she acts.

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Children are discovering all sorts of things about the world around them, including vast amounts of information about social/emotional dynamics. When they throw you off your game or induce you to get frustrated or upset, they’re gathering very interesting data about how to get what they want and what might cause you to reconsider your position. Don’t fall prey to their cunning.

When you can keep your cool and maintain clear boundaries, your kids will still test you, but after they’ve tested all their theories about how to get around your rule with no success, they will find other areas far more interesting and emotionally rich.

4. Be forgetful.

But what about when you’ve asked once and they’re not responding? Instead of asking again, take a different tack. Be forgetful and invite them to remind you what you said a moment ago. “Wait, I forget, didn’t I just ask you to do something? What was that? I think we were getting ready to go somewhere, but can you please remind me where?”

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This allows the kids to be the smarter ones and if there’s one thing children love, it’s being smarter and more capable than adults.

5. Let them be in charge.

That’s why you’ll get a lot more cooperation when you allow them to be in charge. No need to constantly corral them, just put one child in charge of getting everyone ready and out the door and you’ll be surprised how quickly it will happen. This works especially well with my daughter when I underestimate her abilities and she gets to prove how smart and capable she is. “You don’t know how to do that all by yourself, do you?” And then when she has her shoes on and is climbing into her car seat, “Wow, you knew exactly what to do to get ready to go and you did know how to do it!”

6. Cooperate with kids.

There are times when even the most cooperative child just needs some extra help. This could be because they’re tired, sick, hungry, or just feeling sad and disconnected. So if nothing else seems to work, offer to help. During times like this, we like to play a game in which my daughter pretends to be a baby and I have to do everything for her. After just a few moments of this game, she is far more willing to do what I’ve asked or help me with something. That’s because she knows that when she really needs some extra support, I’m there to willingly and happily provide her with the support she needs.

Hopefully, you’re already well versed in these secrets and this has simply been a reminder of what you already know works best. But if you have any trouble, don’t hesitate to contact me, I would love to help you find strategies that are unique to your situation. If you have any experiences or stories to share, or questions about these 6 secrets please leave a comment. Have a fabulous day filled with cooperation!

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Last Updated on February 12, 2019

12 Things That May Cause Breast Cancer You Should Avoid

12 Things That May Cause Breast Cancer You Should Avoid

I’m a hypochondriac. Always have been since I was a child. One of my biggest fears as an adult is getting breast cancer. I visited my gynecologist a few months ago and asked what I could do to help prevent getting breast cancer. You know what she said? Nothing. According to this recommended OB/GYN doctor, besides regular check-ups to see if I already had breast cancer, there was nothing I could do to prevent a cancer that impacts 1 in 8 U.S. women.

BS.

After heavily researching breast cancer, I found out that I was making quite a few mistakes with my everyday activities. Here are 12 things that may cause breast cancer that you should avoid.

Buying Deodorant Without Checking the Label

I actually have a good friend who is more of a hypochondriac than I am, so I went to her with my concerns about breast cancer. She took me into the bathroom and thrust her deodorant at me. While at first I was confused and slightly offended, she explained that I should start using a different deodorant because the mass-produced ones at the store have ingredients (ie aluminum –based compounds) I can’t afford to put under my armpits and so close to my breasts. Luckily, she had an extra Tom’s natural deodorant to give me.

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There might not be any “conclusive” research that links antiperspirants to breast cancer but better safe than sorry.

Using Chemical Hair Dye

I know so many people who dye their hair every few months using the cheap boxed dyes you can buy at the store. Sure, it can be fun but it’s like playing Russian Roulette because the dyes you use most likely contain carcinogens. The National Cancer Institute even warns against the practice of just picking out a hair dye willy-nilly. So the next time you do it, go to a health foods market and find the most naturally-based hair dye you can.

Smoking

Regarding my visit to the gynecologist, she did come back after our conversation a few minutes later and asked if I smoked or drank a lot of alcohol. I said no (I don’t think any true hypochondriac can do either of those things). “You’ll be fine then,” she said. But she forgot about second-hand smoke, which can be just as dangerous. Now, I won’t go near anyone if they’re lighting up, including my BFF’s boyfriend. He can get as mad as he wants; my health is more important!

Wearing the Wrong Bra Size

When an organization devoted to protecting women against breast cancer suggests you get fitted with the right bra, you take notice. Bras that are too small or big might pose a risk because they just aren’t supportive on the breast tissue or if they are too tight they will cut off drainage of the lymph fluid. Hey, it was a great excuse to head to Victoria’s Secret to get measured.

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If I had my choice though, I would go all-natural and join the bra burners of the 60s (however, my mom was a bra burner, so that might make it a little awkward).

Using Chemical Household Cleaners

If the cabinet under your kitchen sink looks like most, there are enough chemicals to make all sorts of crazy things. And yes, as you and I suspected, those chemicals are REALLY bad. Not only are they connected with breast cancer, they are connected with other kinds of cancers, as well as chronic conditions like migraines, allergies and more. So from now on, clean with vinegar, baking soda and other materials that aren’t going to give you a medical nightmare.

Using Mothballs

When I was a little kid, I learned to use mothballs. They actually remind me of my grandmother, bless her heart. Little did I know that they are filled with chemicals that have been connected with breast cancer development. Looks like I’ll be looking for an alternative, like cedar chips. Sorry, Grammy!

Putting Non-Organic Make-Up on My Face

I won’t tell you the foundation I use, but I will tell you that after I read the ingredients, I promptly threw it away. It was chock full of all sorts of nasty things like parabens, which have been found en masse in tissue samples that came from breast cancer patients. I can still wear make-up, though. A trip to my local whole foods store was all it took to come up with organic-based, paraben-free cover-up.

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Neglecting My Physical Health

In my research, I discovered losing weight is a good way to ward off breast cancer since there have been indications of a link between being overweight and being diagnosed with this type of cancer. That’s all the motivation I need to get off the couch and head to the gym.

Drinking Alcohol

Like I mentioned above, alcohol has never been my drink of choice but basically everyone else I know highly enjoys their beer. Yet alcohol is super problematic if you want to avoid breast cancer, liver cancer and heart cancer. In a global study, over 21 percent of alcohol related deaths were because of cancer. I’m hoping for a soon-to-be revolution that swaps alcohol for tea (healthier and less expensive) when it comes to social drinking. Tea time anyone?

De-Odorizing My House With Air Fresheners

I love a clean-smelling house and car, but the air fresheners I’ve been using contain phthalates, a type of plasticizing chemical. Phthalates have been found in air fresheners because they help create a long-lasting fragrance. Unfortunately, that fragrance could be deadly. Looks like I’ll be boiling some water, cinnamon sticks and cloves on the stovetop to make my house smell really amazing!

Storing Everything in Plastic Containers

I have a habit of collecting those plastic containers. Whenever I get a coupon for them, I just go hog-wild and buy a bunch. But they have a connection to breast cancer, which I didn’t know before. It’s especially bad when you use them to reheat food in the microwave. I’m going to suck it up, throw them out and use glass containers instead.

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Buying the Wrong Food

I figured that pesticides were trouble from the get-go, and I was right. They get into your foods and, in some cases, seem to foster an environment where cancerous cells feel compelled to grow within the organs and tissues, including the breasts. It’s one more reason to buy from local farmers, as long as they don’t use pesticides. You’ll have to ask them, by the way; most local food market stands don’t have signs up about the whole pesticides topic.

While everyone still makes fun of me for being a hypochondriac, I know in my heart that I’m actually just protecting myself, and maybe educating some people on the health dangers that lurk in everyday items. My wellbeing is worth being the butt of a few jokes. Yours is, too.

Featured photo credit: NA via istockphoto.com

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