How to Make Your Child Say “YES” to You! - Part 2
As adults, we often find ourselves in situations where we need a child’s cooperation, whether it be for completing chores, homework, or simply following important rules. However, getting them to say “yes” can sometimes be challenging. In part 1 of this article, we explored three ways to turn those Nos into Yeses.
The first was to lead by example. Start saying YES to them. Tactfully and within reason, of course. The second tip was to involve children in decision-making processes wherever possible by giving them choices. Lastly, say it simply and repeat. Giving instructions in a long-winded manner can be confusing for children. Focus on what you want them to do, not what you DON’T want them to do. For example, saying “I don’t want you to shout” is likely going to be less effective than “I would like you to speak softly”.
I hope those strategies have been beneficial. Now, as promised, here’s part two, where I share more ideas on this topic.
4. Mutual Respect and Empathy
Children, like adults, want to be heard and understood. Respectful listening involves maintaining eye contact, acknowledging their emotions, and validating their feelings.
Child: “Why do I have to wake up for school? I’m so tired. I don’t want to go to school today.”
You are rushing to go to work for that important meeting. Your child refuses to cooperate. Any time now and they will start throwing a tantrum. What’s your likely response? Yell “STOP IT”? In an Asian household, that would be a common response. In my experience growing up, sure, yelling “STOP IT. GO GET READY NOW!” is probably a quick way to get your child rushing to the bathroom out of fear of the possible consequences. Is this method going to work in the long run though? I wouldn’t be too sure about that.
Why not try to practise some empathy and say this instead?
Parent: I know what you’re saying. I hear you. I’m tired too and I don’t like going to work either, but it’s important that we both go. Why don’t I help you to get started? Let’s take this blanket off you first.
You are not dismissing their feelings, but you are also making it clear that your child will be going to school.
Disclaimer: This method may not work if there are underlying issues as to why your child refuses to go to school e.g. being bullied in school, fear of the teacher, poor school results etc.
5. Consistent Boundaries and Clear Expectations
Setting clear boundaries and expectations establishes structure and guidance for children. Clearly communicate rules, routines, and consequences, ensuring that they are age-appropriate and fair. Being consistent and following through with both rewards and consequences helps reinforce the importance of adhering to agreements, leading to increased cooperation.
Child: Dad, can I sleep at 11pm instead of 9pm tonight? I want to continue to stay up and play with your guests.
As a parent, you know well that sleeping two hours later means your child will not be well-rested for school the next day. He is probably going to be cranky in the morning and possibly late. But you want him to take responsibility for his decisions too.
Dad: Sure, you can sleep at 11pm. But, you will have to promise me you are going to wake up at the usual time tomorrow, without any complaints. If you are late, I will not be driving you to school and you have to plan for someone to take you to school. This also means that there will be no more sleeping after 9pm. Deal?
It is imperative that you follow through with the consequences if your child does end up waking late the next day. A plan for someone else to take him to school should already be in place at this point in time. Skipping school should not be an option, as much as possible.
6. Let “Yes, and…” stand alone
Saying “Yes, and…” requires an empathetic tone. Be mindful when using this technique. No hint of sarcasm should be used.
Child: I don’t want to do this homework! I hate it!
Parent (nodding empathetically): Yes… and?
Child: I have to hand it in tomorrow.
Parent: Yes… and?
Child: It’s hard. I don’t know how to do it.
Parent: Yes… and?
Child: Can you help me with this question?
Instead of rushing immediately to help your child, let them tell you what they need. Sometimes we get too eager to tell them what to do, when all they really want is someone to listen to what they have to say and guide them to the root of what is bothering them. When they have specified what exactly they need help in, only then shall we step in.
There you go - Three more ways for you to try at home with your child! Good luck with these and I’ll see you again soon in Part Three!