Step State Your Request Respectfully

Now the time comes when you want your kid to do something. First, make sure you have his attention and then state your request firmly, calmly, and respectfully. Also, try lowering your voice instead of raising it. Nothing turns a kid off faster than yelling, so do the opposite.When you talk more softly, not louder, the tone usually catches the kid off-guard, and he stops to listen.Your kid may try every trick in the book to wear you down. Don't let him.

The following strategies are also helpful in reducing verbal power struggles with kids:

• Limit words. The fewer words you say the better: "Homework" or "Bed." Keep your requests short, sweet, and specific.

• Use the Ten-Second Rule. Stop your directions (threats, coaxing, pleading) at the end of ten seconds. If you need to talk beyond ten seconds, you're saying too much.

• Give a warning. It is difficult for some kids to shift gears, especially if they're in the middle of something interesting. So give a time limit: "I'll need your assistance in three minutes" or "I have to talk to you in two minutes."

• Use the Review Method. To ensure your kid understands your requests, use the Review Method: state the request (the fewer words the better) and then your kid "reviews" (repeats) what you just said back to you.

• Try the Broken Record Technique. Tell why you want your kid to comply, and then state your position: "Ms. Ling is coming in five minutes: you need to be at the door now." Calmly repeat your request word for word each time your kid tries to argue.

• Offer choices. Just a bit of leeway sometimes breaks down a resister. "You need to study for your spelling today.Would you like to do so before dinner or after?"

• Compromise. "Your chores are supposed to be done now, but you're working so hard on your throwing. Do you agree to do your chores in half an hour?" Don't ever let your kid force you into a compromise you don't think is fair or appropriate.

If your kid doesn't obey your request within seconds, then you must follow through on the agreed consequence. So go to Step 4, stay thick-skinned, and enforce it.

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