How To Get Your Children To Do What You Want At Any Age

It is not a secret that yelling and screaming at your children simply does not work. It is not a secret that threats do not work. I am sure that you know (or should) that spanking simply does not work. Alas, how many of us really do not know what works and what doesn’t. The same is true whether a child is two or twenty (I do no mean to insinuate that at 20 you are a child, but our children will always be out children no matter what the age.)

It comes down to consequences, really. Allow me to expound. Consequences work for anybody, do they not? Well if you know that consequences guide us then why would you not think that they would perpetuate good behavior in your children. When my children were very little I spent an enourmous amount time ingesting as much literature on childhood discipline as possible. One of these great books discussed the, “If/Then” principle. I must tell you, from all of the books that I have read on discipline, this was definitely the most beneficial.

Before we get into how it works, let us think about the following… what do most parents resort to? Unfortunatel,y rarely a sensible approach. Most parents react in ways that do not result in good behavior simply because they do not know what not to say.  For instance, in a moment of quick response many parents (and we all have) will begin a sentence with “don’t,” “stop,” “never,” or “cut it out.” It is unwise to begin any direction with negative words. These words mean nothing to a child except to illicit negative feelings. Certainly many of us are guilty of the following:

  • Stop touching the stove.
  • Never play with matches.
  • Get out of the street.
  • Don’t forget to do your homework.
  • Don’t get up from the table until you finish your meal.
  • Don’t text while you are driving.

Sound familiar? We all do it.  I would however like you to consider why the “If/Then” principle works. For instance, “If you do not finish your homework, then you will not be allowed to play outside with your friends.” Here it is. Does it make sense? At any age a child can understand consequences. At two years old you take away a stuffed animal. At ten you take away a video game. At 17 you take the car keys. There is no need for screaming, yelling or spanking. There is a need for consequences in everyone’s life. Just as we need consequences in every aspect of our own lives so do our children in order to master good behavior. There are no perfect parents and there are no perfect children, providing consequences, however, helps answer the difficult question of how to effectively and lovingly discipline your child, no matter what the age.

IF you want a a well behaved child THEN why not try the “if/then” principle.

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6 thoughts on “How To Get Your Children To Do What You Want At Any Age

  1. Children always try to bargain, especially if YOU bargain. IF you let me have the car keys, I’ll drive you to work tomorrow… They’re never simple. That said, I agree that consequences are really the only way to go.

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  3. As a teacher, I agree that consequences are important. I also think that we must teach our children WHY certain behaviors are wrong or bad. After all, when our child is a teenager or adult, we don’t want them to rob a bank because they think “if I rob a bank, THEN I go to jail.” We want them to KNOW that it is morally WRONG to rob a bank because it is stealing other people’s hard-earned money.

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