"You're Not Listening!" Building Your Child's Cooperation

Feb 07, 2023

Ever heard of the term 'selective hearing'? My children definitely differ with compliance when it comes to certain requests. For instance, "Hang up your coat, please" does not get the lightning speed reaction that, "Sit down for dessert" does. So how do we get from the first pictures on the left to the picture on the right?


For some of us, we ask politely, and ask again in a calm voice, until suddenly we are shouting in our child's face. Why can't they just do what we ask? Believe it or not, our children don't always want to do what we want them to do. Our priorities are not aligned.

So how to we get our children to do what we ask? These are simple requests like, 'brush your teeth' and 'put your jacket on.'


First, let me clear up any confusion around discipline.

Discipline is defined as the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct. Complying with these requests is not about disciplining your child. What we are looking for here is our child's cooperation.

Cooperation is defined as the process of working together to the same end. "Brush your teeth so we have time to read a book

before bed." "Put your jacket on so the family can go out to the park."

Okay, now that we cleared that up, I'll share some 4 strategies on how to build your child's cooperation.

  • Use positive phrasing - Instead of using "no", "don't", "stop" tell your child what they can and should do. Not only does this benefit your relationship with your child, this also tells your child what your expectations are.
  • Use the word responsibilities instead of chores - The word responsibilities transfers the power to the child, so it is part of the child's job. Every family member should have responsibilities, and these can change as often as needed. Chores are often viewed as tasks that are unpleasant.
  • Create Family Agreements - Sitting down and agreeing upon a set of guidelines and expectations is powerful. Maybe you write an agreement about dinner time etiquette or use of screen time. Whatever it is, creating together allows your child to have a voice and commit to this agreement.
  •  Limits and Consequences - There are always non-negotiable, and in those instances, we need to be clear about what those limits are and what will happen if your child does not respect those limits. This gets into a whole other blog post!

Curious about other topics? I want to hear from you! Email [email protected] and share what's on your mind. I can't wait to hear from you! -Liz


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