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What to Do So My Kids Will Cooperate

Updated: Oct 8, 2022

"Mummy! I DON'T want to go yet!"

"I am tired. I CANNOT help you."

"I am not done with the TV. Do my homework LATER!"

"I don't want to sleep YET!"

"I don't want to TALK to you anymore!"

Sounds familiar? Fret not... You are definitely not alone. :)

Whether we (parents) are interacting with our pre-schoolers, schooling kids, teenagers or young adults, these are common scenes that we see and hear, almost everyday. So the BIG question is, "What can we do to improve the communication with our kids?"

Try the S-S-E Strategy. I use this strategy a lot when I work with children (6yo to 12yo) and teenagers, including my own kids. Parents who I work with, love using this strategy too because it is SIMPLE, and EASY to REMEMBER!

1. State your Observation - Simply state what you see. Use simple, straight-forward words that your kids can understand. E.g. "I need your help now and I can see that you are reluctant to do so."

2. Share your Feelings - Share clearly how "that" action/behaviour is making you feel. It is perfectly OK to tell your kids how upset/frustrated/sad you feel because of his behaviour. Kids need to learn that their actions have CONSEQUENCES, and IMPACT OTHER PEOPLE. You can say things like, "I am disappointed that you are not helping me."

3. Explain your stand and Expectation - Explain to your kid why you are feeling the way you are; and what you would like the kid to do (expectation). For example, "Daddy has been cleaning the house since morning, and I am really tired. I could use some of your help. Please come do the dishes with me in another 5 minutes."

To increase the chances of success when using the S-S-E Strategy, it is important to be calm, and SPEAK CALMLY. Do not scream, shout, scold; or use hurtful words. Frequently when we do that, our kids immediately "switch off" and will be even more reluctant to cooperate.

The choice of words use are also important. DO NOT ASSUME. When in doubt, take the opportunity to clarify with your kid. For example, "I can see that you are very reluctant to do your homework, and I wonder why. " When our kids see that we make efforts to clarify and listen to them (instead of jumping to conclusions), they will be more willing to cooperate.

And if your kid abides, remember to give POSITIVE feedback and show your APPRECIATION. A simple "Thank You", or "I really appreciate your help" will do wonders! People in general, love to have their efforts AFFIRMED, and receive positive attention - our kids too. Give attention to the desired behaviours. Over time, our kids will repeat more and more of these desired behaviours without being asked to.

And of course, just as any parenting strategies, we need to PRACTICE, PRACTICE, and PRACTICE. Expect that this will not come easy for us (parents) initially. We can still let the emotions get the better of us, and go back to our old ways. It's ok. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone fails. And that include us - Parents are human too. :) Give yourself a pat on the back for your effort; and try again the next day.

BE CONFIDENT. Not too long later, you will find yourself chatting pleasantly with your kids over a nice warm cup of hot chocolate or coffee. Look forward to it! It will happen! :)

Bonus! Tip Sheet @ your Finger Tips!

Getting Cooperation (2)
Download PDF • 183KB

If you would like to know more, specific to your family or your children, contact us for a chat at +65 9631 7316, or We offer Parenting Consultation, Counselling Services for Children and Youths and Adults; Stress and Anxiety Therapy.

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