Two easy words: Which first?
Choice is powerful for children. Sometimes we get into command mode where we look over the head of the child and direct them to an activity or an action we want them to take. The lack of eye contact, combined with our insistence, may lead to resistance. One way to gain cooperation is to slow down. Start with eye contact. You may have to bend at the knees and bring your head down to eye-level with a small child.
Consider what it is you want done. If you need your child to brush teeth and make her bed, you can give your child a sense of being valued by asking which they’d like to do first. The small step of respect for a child’s need to have control and choice often leads to happy cooperation. The focus on getting them to do what you need them to do without any meaningful choice leads to a feeling of being controlled. And frankly, nobody likes that feeling.
Tuck this phrase into your hip pocket for when you return to table time work or household activities with your kids.
- Which first? Math or copy work?
- Which first? Video games or reading your book?
- Which first? Kicking the soccer ball around in the backyard or eating lunch?
- Which first? Having me help you with your lessons or working independently?
By giving your children the option of ordering how they do their work, or how they cooperate with the household, or how they entertain themselves, you allow them to envision how they marshal their energy.
Are they more likely to choose the hard thing first with the happier, easier thing after as a reward? Or do they need the energy boost of fun or ease before tackling what’s difficult or boring?
See what happens!
This post is originally from Instagram and @juliebravewriter is my account there so come follow along for more conversations like this one!