How many times have you asked your child to put their shoes or coat on or do several things every day in which their reply is 'NO' and the start of a battle? How many times have you asked your child to go up to bed or brush their teeth or tidy their room in which their reply is 'NO'. How many times a day do you ask and they say, 'NO!
I was at soft play yesterday with my five-year-old where I overheard a Dad make the classic mistake of saying to his daughter, "Do you want to put your shoes on now?" and she replied "NO!". I had to chuckle because then ensued the cajoling and the bribery that we all do just to get the little darlings out the door.
You see the big mistake he made was when he asked. It is in that crucial first instance when we say "Do you want to put your shoes on?" Ahhhhhhh NOPE!! "Do you want to go to bed now?" Aaaahhhhhhhh NOPE! "Do you want to get your coat on?" Hahhahhahahaha aaa 'NO!'.
Give a child the option of putting shoes on and going or the implied option of keeping them off and staying at the soft play they will always choose the latter. We need to focus on the command, what we DO want them to do e.g. "Come and put your shoes on now" "Put your coat on please" "Bedtime now, up we go". Never give them an implied better option because they will always try and take that.
Giving them options and choices is great to grow a sense of empowerment and build decision-making capabilities, but I recommend only giving them choices between two things you want them to have or do. For example, "Do you want to put your shoes on now or in two minutes when I've finished putting Jame's shoes on?" "Do you want to brush your teeth before the story or after?" "You can get dressed whilst watching your program or it will be turned off and I'll get you dressed without watching your program?" By allowing them to decide between two choices YOU are happy with gives them a sense of power over the situation and will enhance their decision-making capabilities for years to come.
When I started to change my language in this way I was so surprised at how often I asked my kids to do things instead of focusing on the command; and just how well they responded once I changed.
Try it and see.
Trish, Founder of WiggleBums & WiggleKids x