Connect before We Direct. Remember Counterwill is least present when our bond with our kids is the strongest. So, before we ask them to pick up their shoes or backpack, try and observe what is happening in that moment, like “How’s that video game going? What are you up to?” Take interest in what is happening in front of you.
Try using less “You should, You must, and I need you to”. Starting your statement with these three things tend to make Counterwill resistance more prominent. Watch what happens to your tone of voice when you ask. Test it out! Say “I need you to pick up your shoes” in a fast and quick tone. Now, try “Could you please pick up your shoes?” in a softer and more deliberate tone of voice. Do you notice the difference? You’ll probably have better success with the second one!
Pause and come back to it later. When your child is resisting a lot, recognize this might not be the best time, so take a pause and return to it later. This is a great time for a self check- in. So let’s say your kid is just really protesting, the “No” is very loud and clear. Now, this is the time for you to ask YOURSELF “Is this really worth it right now? Is it worth the fight right now?” The answer is often no. Give you and your kid some space and freedom to come back later.
Make them their own boss. You are raising a version of you! They can make certain decisions like what to wear or where to play. After all, even you don’t like being told what to do! It’s okay to provide your kids with options, remember to be specific and time limited. For example, “It’s okay if you don’t want to do it right now, but it needs to be done before 9pm. Would you like to do it after you finish playing video games or before you get ready for bed?” The key is provide them options you want them to have and allow them the autonomy to choose.
Take ownership for your actions. This one is a tough one. Let’s be honest for a second, it’s challenging as a parent to apologize, our ego gets in the way. We teach our kids to take ownership for their behaviours, so we must model that as well. More often than not, our kids are not waiting for us to say “I’m sorry.” (But it does help in the repair process.) They want to reconnect and return to that “safe base.” So, try saying “Hey, I feel like I’ve been nagging you a lot lately. I just want to recognize that I find myself annoying, so you must be too.” You can take it one step further with “Clearly, what we’ve been doing is not working. How can we do this differently?” Be there to listen openly to what your kid is saying will work for them, even if it doesn’t seem like it might work well for you.