Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Engaging Co-operation

If you are one of many parents that have a daily struggle to get your children to behave in ways that are acceptable to you and to society?  Part of the issue revolves around the conflict of needs.  The adult need is for some semblance of cleanliness, order, courtesy and routine. The children couldn’t care less.  How many of them would, of their own volition take a bath, say “please” or “thank you”, or change their underwear?  And sometime the more intense we become the more actively they resist.

I am sure there are times when your children think of you as the “enemy” – the one that is always making them do what they didn’t want to do: “wash your hands… keep your voices down… hang up your coat… did you do your homework?… get into bed… go to sleep.”

And you’re the one who stops them doing what they want to do: “Don’t eat with your fingers… don’t jump on the sofa… don’t pull the cat’s tail…”

Your children’s attitude becomes “I’ll do what I want” and your attitude becomes, “You’ll do as I say” and the fight goes on.

Some of the common methods used by adults to get children to co-operate are:

1.    Blaming and accusing – “how many times do I have to tell you to….”
2.    Name calling – “that was a really stupid thing to do”
3.    Threats – “If you haven’t finished dressing by the time I count to three, I going without you”
4.    Warnings – “Don’t run, you’re fall over”
5.    Martyrdom statement – “Will you two stop shouting…you’ll make me ill”
6.    Comparisons – “Why can’t you be more like your sister/brother”

Here are five skills that have been found to be helpful to other parents.  Not everyone of then will work with every child or every situation and there isn’t one that is effective all the time.  What these skills do, however, is create a climate of respect in which the spirit of co-operation can begin to grow.

To Engage Co-operation

1.    Describe. Describe what you see, or describe the problem.

Instead of – “you’re so stupid, you always leave the bath tap running and forget about it, do you want us to have a flood.”
Describe – “the water in the bath is getting close to the top”

2.    Give information.

Instead of – “Who drank the milk and left the bottle out?”
Give information – Kids milk turns sour when it’s left out of the fridge.”

3.    Say it with a word

Instead of – “I’ve been asking and asking you to get into your pyjamas and you’re still watching TV, you agreed to get into your pyjamas before you watched TV.” Say it with a word – Kids, pyjamas!

4.    Talk about feelings.

Instead of – “What is wrong with you always leave the wet towels on the floor?”  Talk about feelings – “It bothers me when leave the wet towels on the floor because they won’t dry and get smelly.”

5.    Write a note.

A note of the television reads – Before you turn this on – THINK – have I done my homework?

Sometimes when we are stressed or tired using new skills can seem very difficult and we often revert to our “default” position of one of them ways listed above.  Remember you are human and this is a natural reaction. So give yourself a break and you will get other opportunities to use these new skills.

I would appreciate your feedback. What you found helpful? What worked well? What didn’t?

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