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Inspiring Co-operation without Nagging, Shouting or Punishing

It can be very frustrating and irritating when our children don’t co-operate with us on a regular basis. It is tempting to raise our voices, to repeat ourselves over and over, or to threaten to punish for non-compliance. But there is a more effective, simple solution, to motivate our children to co-operate. This involves encouragement, deliberate ignoring for minor misdeeds (following a gentle reminder), and setting a positive example. Having a logical or natural consequence, a non-material enticement, and setting limits works really well.

The younger the child, the more need for regular reminders, as they tend to forget things that don’t have much personal meaning. Eg Eating with mouths closed.  However, there is a big difference between reminding and nagging. If we have asked a child to do something in a respectful way, and he does it, then we need to let him know that we are pleased with his co-operation. Eg “Thanks for helping to put the books away, Sean”.

If a child doesn’t help, then we need to ignore the lack of cooperation, have some kind of consequence, or motivate her with some kind of non-material reward. If there is no help, we can still set a good example by doing the job ourselves, without mentioning the lack of co-operation (lack of attention for negative behaviour). An example of a non-material reward could be playing a game, reading a book, putting on a cd, or having some morning tea. Eg “Let’s pick up the books, and then we can have a game of snap”.

If we ask our children to do something too often, they tend to tune us out. Telling our children repeatedly what they need to do, doesn’t work too well. Changing our own behaviour and setting limits does. Eg “The TV will be going off until the dishes are dried.” Shouting regularly, and nagging, will lead to a child only taking us seriously, when we become angry. It is also very draining for parents!

 A good way to find out if our child has selective hearing, is to whisper that we have a lolly. They tend to hear what they want to hear!

If we ask in a calm, cheerful and positive way, where we are expecting the job to be done, we are more likely to gain co-operation.

It is not necessary to have a consequence for every act of non-compliance. We need to decide which actions need to be followed through, on a consistent basis. Eg when a child is hurting someone, or deliberately breaks an item. It is far more effective to concentrate on the behaviour that is acceptable, than pushing for obedience for every request.