Anyone who has tried to feed a baby something they don’t want to eat knows the truth behind these words – you can’t change anyone else’s behavior. So stop trying! Here is the answer to stopping all future power struggles between you and your child. This is important – read on!
Stop telling them what to do and start stating what YOU are going to do. Let me give you some examples.
Instead of “Please sit down. We are going to eat now.” Try, “I will serve dinner as soon as you are seated.”
Instead of “Clean your room so we can go shopping.” Try, “I’ll be happy to take you shopping as soon as your room is clean.”
Instead of “Don’t you dare shout at me! Try, “I listen to people who are not yelling at me.”
Instead of “You can’t go play until you have finished your homework.” Try, “Feel free to play as soon as you have finished your homework.”
Instead of “Don’t be late coming home from school.” Try, “I drive those to practice who arrive home on time.”
Instead of “I am sick and tired of picking up your dirty clothes.” Try, “I’ll be glad to wash the clothes that are put in the laundry room.”
Instead of “Get this room cleaned up right now and I mean it!” Try, “You are welcome to join us for __________ as soon as your room is clean.”
Instead of “Don’t talk to me in that tone of voice!” Try, “I’ll listen as soon as your voice is as calm as mine.”
Instead of “Do your chores on time or you will be grounded!” Try, “I’ll be happy to let you go with your friends as soon as your chores are finished.”
When you are clear on what you are going to do you send a very clear message to your child. Using ‘I statements’ removes the defensive reaction you have probably experienced in the past when you have insisted that your child obey your commands. By inverting the conversation you will elicit cooperation. Be patient with yourself as you start to use this new language, it takes some getting use to and it is probably not your ‘mother tongue’. The results you will experience will be amazing, just remember to hold up your end of the bargain – stick to your guns and follow through. Your child deserves it!