Delivering Discipline - Boosting Cooperation

Module three : Lesson one


Boosting a child's engagement and obedience comes easily when we can demonstrate the benefits of cooperating. If you feel like you are chasing your child around to get them to listen to you, maybe you're becoming dependent on threats, bribes, reward charts, whatever that might look like in your home. And if you feel overwhelmed, I just want my child to listen. I just want them to be able to cooperate with me.

Then I want you to start retargeting their motivation and demonstrating the benefits to cooperating. Think of it like this. As adults, we engage in things that are motivating to us or that come with a sense of a benefit. We work hard because we get a paycheck. We have relationships because we crave human to human connection. Everything that we do is paired with motivation.

And kids are the same, but so often we expect them to do what we say because we say so, and that's the end of the story. But unfortunately, their brains will become resistant over time if that is the way that we are constantly trying to coerce and coax our children into listening.

So rather than that, by focusing on your child's motivation and then using it in order to demonstrate the benefit of cooperating with you, you're going to find that not only your relationship gets better, but your child's ability to cooperate and make better decisions becomes so much easier for them.

And ultimately, that's what we're looking for. We want to make it as easy as possible for kids to be successful. The more practice that your child gets listening the first time, making good decisions, cooperating with the family, then the better they get at it. So we want to give them as much opportunity to be successful as possible.

Let me give you a quick example. Let's say that your child is standing on the couch with you and you really want them to sit down for whatever reason. Maybe it's unsafe, maybe you want to read a story, maybe they're climbing on your head. Either way, let's say that your goal is for them to sit down.

Rather than saying, "Stop jumping. Stop climbing on me. Stop standing on the couch. It's dangerous." Rather than that, which I know that sometimes we're drawn to do. Rather than that, I want you to focus on their motivation in the moment and to give them the opportunity to experience the benefit of cooperating with you.

For example, if they are carrying their favorite book with them and currently climbing on your head, maybe you can take the book and say, "Hey, would you like to read a story together? Once you sit down, then we can read our story."

We use their motivation by basically assessing what it is that they prefer in the moment. And then we follow up with the quick instruction that is simple and that is clear, easy for them to do and we show the benefit of cooperating with you. As soon as they sit down, we immediately start reading their favorite story and we have a great time together.

Notice that we're replacing what not to do with what to do instead. And then we're pairing it with something that we know they are interested. You can start doing this every day, 20 times a day, 50 times a day, and you're going to find that when this starts to become your practice, when this becomes your habit, this is how I talk to kids. I demonstrate a benefit of cooperating with me.

What you will find is your relationship, your connection will strengthen immediately, and that cooperation and that self-regulation is going to greatly improve. You'll be able to fade this out within no time, and then as soon as you see, okay, the connection is dropping again, the cooperation is dropping again, just revisit those two key things. Notice what their motivation is and use it to demonstrate the benefit of cooperating with you.


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