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November 8, 2012
We all want cooperation from our children. Many parents are disappointed when they don’t get it, but do we take time to teach it? Cooperation involves give and take. As parents, we are more than willing to give, expecting that our children will give sometimes too. Unfortunately, some children don’t know how to give; they only take. Any negotiation has to have something in it for the child or he won’t work with you, and if he does agree to work, he’ll do so with a bad attitude. That’s not cooperation, that’s coercion.
If you have a child who doesn’t know how to cooperate, maybe you need to use a technique we call, “Obey first and then we’ll talk about it.” This technique simply reverses the sequence of two important elements, discussion and responsiveness. A person who knows how to cooperate can be responsive and give in without necessarily having a personal benefit. The enjoyment of a pleasant relationship is the reward and sacrifice is a way to gain it.
Some parents try to talk their children into following instructions or have discussions to help them want to obey. These children often can’t follow a simple instruction without a dialogue and grow up to make poor team members, difficult employees, and demanding friends.
Some parents who see a need for their children to give, not just take, require obedience by saying, “Because I’m the parent, that’s why.” We believe that although these parents may have a handle on the problem, their solution is inadequate. We simply suggest that a child may need a period of time where following instructions comes before the discussion to foster the ability to give up one’s agenda without always having to get something out of it.
When Jenny is asked to get on her pajamas and responds with, “But I’m not tired,” Mom may say, “Jenny, you need to obey first and then we’ll talk about it.” After Jenny obeys, then a discussion about bedtime may take place. It’s surprising though, how many children don’t feel the need for a discussion afterwards. Dialogue for them was simply an attempt to delay or avoid obedience.
If your children are having trouble cooperating, try “Obey first and then we’ll talk about it” for a while and you’ll see a noticeable difference.
This Parenting Tip comes from the book, Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes in You and Your Kids, by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.