By Paulene Richardson from even better parenting
It’s important you know your children will do what you ask, when you ask, for many reasons (including safety). So what then should you do when your child ignores you, or does the opposite of what you ask? Is there really an effective way to get kids to do what they’re asked?
There is! The key is to use natural consequences. Not punishment, not anger, not nagging, but natural consequences. “Isn’t that just another (nicer) way of saying punishment? What’s the difference?” do I hear you ask? Let use a bath time example to illustrate the difference between a punishment and natural consequences, and you can use the same principle in many different situations.
Here’s a familiar scene: It’s bath-time and you have been concerned about your child standing up and jumping about in the bath. You constantly ask them to sit down but nothing happens or they jump straight up again. You know it’s dangerous and you know that when in the bath the child must sit.
“If you don’t sit down in the bath, we won’t go to the playground tomorrow”. Sitting in the bath has nothing at all to do with going to the playground, and so it is not a natural consequence.
When getting your child ready for the bath tell them clearly that you’ve decided that when they’re in the bath they must sit. Once that direction has been given what happens if they continue to stand? Using natural consequences your child, if not sitting, gets out.
So let’s look in a little more detail as to how a natural consequence might work in this practical example.
Once you state clearly that when in the bath the child must sit, the natural consequence is that if not sitting, your child has chosen to get out. Once your child is 12-14 months, you can apply this to many everyday situations, including sitting on the swing, getting into bed for story-time, sitting at the table while eating, sitting during story-time at the library, washing hands before eating, wearing a sun-hat to play outside. It’s really important that once you have stated that something is (or is not) to be done that you follow through. If you don’t mean it, don’t say it. If you do mean it, follow through. Following through is the key to getting a child to do what you ask. When you follow through with natural consequences, delivered lovingly, your overall credibility and effectiveness is strengthened as your child knows they can trust you to mean what you say and that is incredibly important in any relationship.
Hi, I’m Paulene Richardson and I set up even better parenting to help parents use Montessori-inspired parenting to bring out the best in their children and give them the very best start possible. I’m an Early Childhood and Montessori specialist, with decades of experience understanding the needs young children and their families. My aim is to help parents meet the developmental needs of their young children within the family context.
I offer a range of services including individual consultations in your own home as well as seminars for groups. I am also available as a guest speaker.
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