Zionsville Times Sentinel

November 29, 2012

Doing it as asked the key to cooperation

By Tess Worrell/Times Sentinel columnist
Zionsville Times Sentinel

— “My children are walking all over me. How do I get them to cooperate?” Such is the cry of many parents.

Cooperation, elusive in the best of human interactions, tests most families. At the same time, cooperation forms the foundation of healthy relationships. So, as elusive as it can be, parents must put the building blocks of cooperation in place.

The keys to cooperation vary. Sometimes more clear instructions are needed; sometimes parents need to ensure follow-through; sometimes parents need to consider the child’s perspective. But, many families face a major hurdle when parents fail to require children to “do it as asked.” When child fails to take out the garbage, parent may rant, but all too often, after the rant, parent winds up taking out the trash. There’s a more effective strategy.

From early on, children need to learn that if given a direct instruction they obey. Every time. Parents achieve this by never letting a child get away with disobeying.

Please pick up the paper again. I can explain.

To instill real cooperation, parents must establish the pattern that every time an instruction is given, child must do what they were told to do with a respectful attitude. Other columns have covered how to give the instruction, how to address bad attitudes and how to impose consequences that change attitude. But, none of this matters if – out of exhaustion or ignorance – parent lets the child off the hook from the original instruction. The final step must always be that child cooperates by doing what they were told in the first place. This normalizes obedience.

See Wednesday's paper for the full story.