4 Steps to Cooperative Kids
"How can I get my kids to listen the first time I ask them to do something?"
This is a question I'm asked time and again! Parents want their kids to do something right away, kids will put it off until the yelling begins.
1. Get his attention
If we make a request while a child is fully engaged in another activity, he may not realize we're speaking to him or he's only half listening because he is focused on something else. Politely ask your child to stop what he is doing, wait until the two of you have eye contact then make your request.
2. Details matter
This is your opportunity to clearly state what you need from your child and when you'll want it done. If this is the first time he will be completing this chore, it is important to be clear about your expectations for what you consider "done correctly." If the child has been assigned the task before and didn't complete it as you requested, add a gentle reminder: "Remember, when I ask you to fold the towels it means they'll be put in the linen closet too."
** Remember to let go of everything being perfect! Your child is learning and developing a skill set, which means their version of a job "well done" might differ slightly from yours. Be flexible and willing to accept age appropriate skill levels.
3. Confirm the agreement
After sharing specific detalis with your child, have him repeat it so everyone is clear about what is expected. Also ask if he can agree to have it done within the timeframe you've set. Having the verbal agreement means you can remind him of the agreement if something isn't completed appropriately. .
4. Resist nagging and acknowledge their accomplishments!
It is important to build responsibility and trustworthiness in your child. Once you have his agreement, let it go and see what happens. If your child fulfills his task, make sure to acknowledge it! "Hey, great job getting that done! I really appreciate it." This will reinforce his positive decision making and encourage him to follow through on future requests.
Of course, if for some reason, your child chooses not to do what he agreed to do, there has to be a consequence to his action. Make sure the consequence is tied to his behavior, for example:
"You chose to play your video game instead of getting your chores done. For the next 2 days there will be no video game time until after all your chores are finished."
Kids want their parents to be proud of them. They also want to feel as if they are contributing to the family. Start giving them chores early on (even toddlers can take spoons to the dinner table!) and increase their responsibilities as they grow older. Teens should continue to grow in their "home skills" so when they go to college they aren't left figuring everything out on their own!