As a parent coach, I field a lot of questions from people who are doing their best in the face of wild tantrums, sleepless nights, and crazy-busy schedules … to name a few common challenges. One question that comes up often, and one that I love to weigh in on, is "how do I use peaceful parenting to get my kids to cooperate more — especially when I really need them to?"
This is such a great question because it's so real; it reveals our desire to treat our children with dignity AND get the behaviors we need from them. What happens to most of us is that we try to rush them along when we are already behind schedule. This backfires, because the last thing children like is to be rushed to do something they don't find all that important – like, getting to school on time, for example. We rush and our kids put on the brakes; it's a standoff that's likely to end in us pushing harder, saying or doing something we later regret, and feeling awful about it later.
Guess what? We can change that.
I know, I know, we're busy and don't have time to slow down to make the morning routine fun. I get that the dinner-pajama-bedtime dance can feel more like an emotional mosh pit than a tango. I understand that getting out of the house on time for the lesson/game or cousin's birthday party becomes a battle of wills and threats to coerce our kids to move faster. I get it.
So what if we changed the setup — redefined the entire premise?
What I mean is this: what if we admit that when we say we want our kids "cooperation" we really mean we want them to do it our way? What if, instead of going for their submission, we go for their actual buy-in … their participation?
Stay with me … because this could be a game-changer for your entire family.
Enlisting our children to buy-in to an event, value, or action requires us to onboard them. Onboarding anyone demands we understand what makes that person tick and tap into that authentic source in a positive way. Yes, it can be done through negative means by withholding or threating the thing that makes the person tick, but peaceful parenting relies on a positive approach to get the results we all want for our little loves—we want them to be happy, independent, healthy, kind, and secure (I didn't make up that list; those words come up every time I ask parents what kind of people they want their kids to grow up to become).
So what makes our kids tick? Of course the long list is different for every person. One likes physical action while the other prefers to sit and read, while a third loves to just be outside, and a fourth is all about food. It's important to know what each of our kids enjoys, but what I'm after here is the one thing we all desire and the one thing that makes us all tick: connection.
So if we offer connection to our children, in healthy forms and abundant frequency, we essentially frontload them with feelings of safety and joy (hello, oxytocin). This, in turn, makes us all feel more bonded which results in more buy-in and participation because the activity is what we're all doing and naturally appeals to us more as a cohesive unit. It's the Team Juice.
I know, you're busy. You got 30 seconds? 3-5 times a day? Yes, you do. Here's what to do with them so you can soak your kids with the sweet stuff and get more cooperation from them … yes, even when it counts. Your kids still might not do what you want them to do every time you ask, so manage your own expectations, but if you take this ritual on and do it 3 times a day, I guarantee you'll feel an increase in your family's positive flow and the overall tone will shift.
Here it is:
Step 1: Make sure your child is in an open state of mind and body.
Step 2: Cup your child's face gently in your hands.
Step 3: Look into your child's eyes until you both feel melty or something inside softens.
Bonus Points: Notice and mentally note the flecks of color in your child's eyes.
This ritual is so simple and stunning in its efficiency. It's a speed-move to intentionally hijack our "in love" feelings with our children. We can use it before a separation, as a reunion at the end of a day, or just randomly when we want to feel more love in our lives.
I love this ritual and I know it will work for you, too! Go on … fall in love with your children again!
Bio: Laine Lipsky is a parent coach, speaker and parent educator. She practices what she teaches with her two spirited children. Laine is the author of the forthcoming book, Uncommon Parenting. Contact and find out more about her at [www.lainelipsky.com, https://www.facebook.com/lainelipsky].
Cover photo: Pixabay