Tools to Invite Cooperation
These Positive Discipline tools will grow your confidence and give you a plan for those (inevitable) challenging times.
1. Give choices to ease transitions
Imagine being a young child and not having control over much of your life...like what you eat, when it’s time to leave the house, being strapped into a car seat, or when it’s time for bed or nap. You would go crazy too!
Choices = control
You can help children by giving fair warnings for transitions and limited choices (2 choices you can both live with), which end with “you decide”.
“You are having fun in the bath and it is time to clean up our toys. Which ones are you cleaning up first, the animals or cups? You decide.”
"5 minutes before we leave the park.
What's the last thing you want to play on? You decide."
2. Say YES
When we use "no" all the time, it starts to lose its meaning and invites power struggles. (Save it for safety issues.) Instead, say "yes" with a condition you are comfortable with. This does not mean doing everything your child wants! Instead get creative (and model some flexibility) with how you can say yes by adding the condition...
"Yes, you can have more snacks at snack time."
"Yes, we can read that book at bedtime."
“Yes, we can go to the park when your shoes and sunscreen are on.”
3. Let them help
Adaptive skills are the skills one needs to function independently in life. For our little ones, the skills that are developed in the first five years include things like eating, toileting, dressing, bathing, and even chores around the house. Having skills translates directly to self-esteem: you see their eyes light up when they master putting a coat on by themselves, doing laundry, or even sweeping.
This is a magical time developmentally when they are WIRED to WANT to do it independently.
Help cook meals - yes, even littles!
tear kale, pour things into a bowl, help stir, bang on pots and pans
Contribute to the home
organize socks, put clothes in dryer, water plants, feed animals, help/comfort sibling
own spray bottle & rag, dustbuster, scrub brush in the tub
4. Find the fun to invite cooperation
You will never, ever be able to invite cooperation without getting into a child’s world. For toddlers and preschoolers, imagination and play IS their life and their perspective. It is how their brain grows, how they develop relationships, and how they explore. Finding the fun might not come intuitively, but if you can tap into your inner awesome personality (it is there!) to shine and connect, your little one will WANT to connect and cooperate. Find the games, pretend, and laugh. This is can be the hardest tool because we are so freakishly exhausted, but dig deep and fake it until you make it. Pay attention to what they are into (dinosaurs, diggers, monkeys, mermaids, whatever the flavor of the month) and use it as inspiration.
“How would a monkey put on her pajamas?”
“Oh no! The blocks are everywhere! Let’s be diggers and scoop them all up!”
“Open wide for the mermaid toothbrush. It will find all the mermaids in your mouth lagoon!”
Music is a powerful connection tool to invite cooperation. Sing yourself, ask Alexa for help or invite them to join you in a playful song like Orca Whale or 5 Little Monkeys.
Impromptu dance parties
Clean up song
Special song for tuck-in time
Silly made up songs to set the table, brush teeth, get out the door, get dressed...anything!