Have you ever tried to give a kid a command?
I have and it goes something like this...
"Pick up your socks, please."
And then really - what do you do as a parent? Ground them? Beat them? Send them to their room? Because none of those will get the socks picked up. (I don't beat my kids.)
We have a seven year old who loves to challenge us right now to see what we will do. So giving any sort of command is either met with a "no" or a blank stare. Either response is equally annoying. We also have a four and a half year old who doesn't like cleaning anything because she is too tired.
Saturday I tried something new with the four year old. Her room was messy and so I said, "Oh, this is so sad. Your room is really messy. What are you going to do about it?"
She looked perplexed and said, "I don't know."
I said, "Can I give you some ideas?"
Then I said, "How about you pick up these things and I pick up those things. How will that work for you?"
She agreed it would work for her so I picked up her laundry and put it in the basket and that left her the rest. I didn't say anything after that - just walked out. A little while later she came in and said, "My room is clean!"
And sure enough...it was.
According to Love & Logic:
Questions cause children to think. Commands cause children to resist.
The Five Steps -
1. Lock in empathy. "Oh, that is so sad."
2. Ask the child, "What are you going to do?"
3. When the child says, "I don't know, " ask, "Would you like to hear some ideas?"
4. Offer no more than three possible solutions. After each one ask, "How would that work for you?"
5. Allow the child to choose - and learn from the choice and empathy.
Every opportunity to own and solve a problem enhances a child's self-respect.