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Getting Your Child’s Cooperation

As a parent, you need the cooperation of your children. Cooperation means working together to achieve something or some objective. You and your children have to live together and if you have their cooperation, things will go a lot better for you and them. Here are some things you can do, and also some things you shouldn’t do, to gain that cooperation.

To get your child’s cooperation, you first have to talk to him about what he wants. If you try to make your child do something, such as play a musical instrument, his ability to play that instrument will not improve. But if you talk to him about it first, asking him what he thinks about playing an instrument or what instruments he likes, then he might agree that it would be a good thing for him to know how to play one.

Trying to persuade your child through bribery (offering him things in return for his cooperation) is the wrong thing to do. You are making a very bad mistake if you say, “I’ll give you a piece of candy if you do this.” That kind of persuasion doesn’t work. Likewise, if you said to your child, “Hey, wouldn’t you like to go to your room and change your clothes?” you might well get as an answer, “No!” Children don’t like to be told what they will or will not like to do, so this type of persuasion also fails.

Instead of persuasion, you can do one of two things: you can smoothly control and direct your child positively and work with him and in that way get him to do what you asked him to do—using a lot of communication back and forth between you and the child—or you can just leave the child alone. There is no other choice. Children don’t like it if they are not talked to or asked their thoughts about something.

Your child will respond well and have a positive reaction to good control and good communication. So when you talk to your child, if you work to communicate with him and try to find things you and he can agree on, and if you show love and care for him, you can make him do all kinds of things.

For example, you can ask your child to do simple things, such as touch the floor, touch his head, point at you or find the table in the room. He may fool around for a while, but after a little bit, he will do what you are asking him to do. Then, if you say, “Let’s go and eat,” he will do it.

The change comes about because your child finds that the things you tell him to do are not necessarily going to take away from his own willingness to cooperate. So your instructions are not dangerous to him. Therefore, you and he can do something together.

If you always let your child do whatever he wants to, he is not going to do well and he is not going to be able to communicate easily with or work with other people. If you want your child to do something, the answer is not to just let him do what he is doing and not interfere with him or try to control his actions or behavior.

For example, sometimes, when it is time to go to bed, your child might say, “I want to stay up with you” and will insist on doing so, trying to show that he has the power to choose what he wants to do.

What can you do?

To obtain the desired result, you must get your child into communication. If you say, “Well, it’s time for you to go to bed now,” and he says, “No,” don’t stay on that subject. Leave it alone and just talk about something else. You could ask, “What did you do today?” and when he answers, ask “Where was that?” And then just keep the conversation going, asking him, “How?” or “Oh, did you? Is that a fact?” And then, when you have communicated with him for a while, ask him, “Well, how about going to bed?” and the child’s answer will be “Okay.”

The point is that you don’t have to use force. You don’t have to offer gifts or try to persuade. Instead, use communication with your child and you will be able to get him to do what you want him to do.

Do not be afraid to use control, but do not use force. And if you continue to do this, your child will actually begin to look to you for direction. But if you don’t give him that direction, he will think you don’t care about him.

Good control and communication is how to get your child’s cooperation and help him to do well in life as he grows up.

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