Ask for what you want (all ages)
There are definitely ways of saying things to children that can encourage them to do as you ask. For example, saying ‘”will you” or “would you” can encourage teamwork by giving children a feeling that they are being invited to participate and that you trust them to do what you ask.
On the other hand by saying ‘”can you” or “could you”, children may think to themselves, “Well yes I can do it, but why should I?” or say “Yes I could do it if I wanted but I don’t want to”.
Sometimes it is not so much what we say to children but how we say it. You will need to ask in a positive way while being respectful and using a pleasant tone. If you were talking to other adults such as our work colleagues, you would be respectful and speak politely. Yet sometimes when we are talking to children we seem to talk to them in a more negative, bossy way and even aggressively sometimes. For example, you may say to your child “can you hurry up and put those things away” yet to a colleague or other adult you may say “please would you put those things away”. By adopting the same respect that you would give to adults, children will feel validated and happier to oblige.
It is a simple thing to do, it has instant results and the children don’t even know you are doing it. As I have mentioned our brains are like a computer and will reach for answers to the questions that you put into it. Therefore it is important to ask for the behaviours that you want, not what you don’t want.
Asking for what you want, try some ideas out for yourself;
Tell children what you want in a positive way
What they hear
Tell children what you want in a negative way
What they hear
Would you Sit on the sofa, please
‘For goodness sake can you to stop jumping on the sofa.’
Will you Sit still on your chair please
Stop getting down from the table you naughty girl
Would you keep your hands to yourself
Could you stop hitting your brother
Would you please walk by the pushchair
Put in your own examples below
You might think what’s wrong with saying “stop jumping”? Well it doesn’t matter if you say “stop jumping” or “jump”, your children will hear “jump” and so they will tend to do that. Children don’t necessarily know what you want them to do instead of jump, so you are more likely to get what you want if you are specific.
You may find that you use a negative and a positive request in the same sentence such as;
“Stay by the pushchair and stop running off”. This is confusing and far less effective than a clear positive request of “Would you please walk by the pushchair?” Therefore cut out the negative part on the end, no matter how tempting it is to say it.
You will need to gain your child’s attention and make eye contact with them before asking them to do something. Do it face to face without shouting from a distance. Ask children twice for what you want, once to ask them directly for what you want and the second time to give them a chance to do as they are asked or in case they did not understand the first time. If you ask, more often than that, children just realise that you don’t mean business until you reach the third or fourth time or however many times you ask and this will just escalate the problem. By nipping unwanted behaviour in the bud you will catch children before they get really angry and frustrated. If they do not do as they are asked after the second time, take them to the next stage which may be a fitting consequence.
- ‘Would you please pick up the bricks and put them in the box?
Pause for around 10 seconds for a response, if no response. Repeat it
- ‘Would you please pick up the bricks and put them in the box?’
- Ok I am going to turn off the TV until you have picked up the bricks
If your child responds, then you can say, ‘Thank you for picking up the bricks’.
If they do not respond, go to the next step which is to give a fitting consequence.
This tip is taken from my Parent’s Guide to Children’s Behaviour online course, for all my tips and suggestions and the complete guide to children’s behaviour sign up now ……… http://biy.ly/CBDCOURSE
All the Best