How do you keep your child from going “Mommy or Daddy deaf”? Often, it can seem very difficult to get your child to pay attention to you, or to get them to do their daily chores, or to do their homework, or eat their vegetables. The list seems infinite! But not to worry… gaining compliance with your child is possible. Try some of these helpful strategies and you may just see an increase in the percentage of cooperative behavior in your household.
- Specific Commands – State specific, one-step, 10-words-or-less commands to the child. For example, “Pick up your shoes now, please” or “go brush your teeth now.”
- Use Effective Warnings – After the child is non-compliant to a specific command, give him or her one warning. For example, “If you don’t [do specific command], then you will [have specific consequence].”
- Use Natural/Logical Consequences – If the child doesn’t comply with the warning, give a consequence. The best consequences teach, rather than punish, the child. For example, if the child leaves his/her bike in the driveway, then they lose their bike privileges for a specific time period.
- Reinforce Compliance – Offer praise or other forms of positive attention when the child complies with your command.
- Pick Your Battles – When trying to change several behaviors, do not ask the child to comply with too many new things simultaneously; choose those things that are most important and work with the child on those.
- Increase Positive Reinforcement – Pay attention to and reinforce neutral and positive on-going behavior.
- Don’t give in – Avoid allowing your child to get his/her way by escalating his/her aversive behavior.
- Ignore – Don’t pay attention to mild attention-seeking behavior (e.g. whining, pouting, etc.).
- ACT—DON’T YAK! – No need to threaten or yell. Avoid escalating your behavior to get the child to comply.
- Stay cool. Remember: YOU DO NOT WIN A POWER STRUGGLE BY HAVING ONE. Don’t get emotionally involved (angry, frustrated, etc.).
Remember that getting your child to be more cooperative may take some time. Add in lots of love and a little patience, and you will have the key ingredients to make this a successful endeavor.