How do I get my child to do X?

I was thinking about how we approach and deal with our childrens’ behaviour. In response to our kids not doing things we like, or not doing things in a ways that we would like, we often we ask:

“How do I get my child to do X?”

This question, this approach doesn’t set us up well for success. How do I get my child to do X is too simple, unilateral, and not relationship based. It lacks depth and understanding. Parenting is not so simple, and neither are children.

Asking ourselves better questions to begin with will yield better results. Here are some alternatives:

What can I do in order to help my child with X?

How can I set up/change the environment so that X is more likely?  (Or less likely depending upon what X is)

How can I explain the importance of this so my child will understand?

How can I work with my child in a way that respects his/her needs and autonomy?

How can I talk with my child beforehand or at a neutral time so that we can increase chances of success?

Is what I’m asking of my child reasonable, developmentally or otherwise?

Are there other ways that will be more enjoyable or a win/win for all involved?

How can I best react in the moment, when my child has a hard time doing X, so that we maintain a positive relationship?

How can I best react in the moment, when my child has a hard time doing X, so that I don’t create negative associations around X… and, in turn, make X even less likely to happen.  (This is the shooting yourself in the foot parenting move. Accomplished many-a-times by yours truly.)

How can I best react in the moment, when my child has a hard time doing X, so that I help build comfort, confidence, skills and positive feelings around X?

Why really is my child resisting/not enjoying/having a hard time with X?

Does my child really want to/need to do X?

I know this might seem like a bit much, a bit too considerate even. What this really is though, is skillful parenting. Yes, it might take longer to learn and a bit longer to employ, but the results will speak for themselves…happier children and more cooperation. In time, this approach will save you time and will cut-down on the power struggles considerably. How do I get my child to do X is only the most basic question we can ask. The results of this line of questioning/thinking will also speak for themselves, in not such a good way.

Think of the manager who wants his employees do X. Let’s say it’s something the manager wants, it’s not explained that well, and it mostly benefits just him (or at least that’s the perception). His want and needs are the primary focus. The manager wants X and the employees just need to do it. I imagine this is akin to what children experience a lot of the time. So, what kind of results would this management style yield?  If this wouldn’t work that well with adults, then it likely won’t work with kids.

Wouldn’t it be better for the manager first to get an understanding of his employess and of how he could help the employees do X successfully? Wouldn’t it be better for the manager to consider the wants, needs, and abilities of his employees?  Skillful managers do this. They create environments of cooperation and collective vision. They don’t coerce, they get “buy in.”

How are your management skills?



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