“You can come [enter what you want child to do here] by yourself
or I can help you come [repeat what you want child to do here].”
Use this line always with your little ones. Everywhere. If you think they are too young to help or understand that they have a choice, use it. For example, you calmly say, “You can come get into the bath or I can help you get into the bath”. Watch them simply get in the bath. Because they want to do as much on their own as possible. Parents often turn to threatening, screaming and challenging their kids which leads to defiance and tantrums from both parties. Kids want to affirm their independence. And this simple phrase puts the decision-making in their hands. Calling the shots is all they really want. How many times do you hear your child say, “I can do it by myself’. Respect them and support their mantra too! The more you use this phrase, the faster they will resolve issues on their own. They will quickly recall how they decided last time what was the best decision, and did it all by themselves. Watch their confidence soar. You will be amazed how well they are listening, at a time when you think they are not hearing you. Always use a calm tone/voice so the focus stays on both of you helping each other. Co-operating is not just for us adults to preach to children, but for us to lead by example. And be sure to praise them for their good decision. My 4 year old usually beams with pride after I say, “Good decision! You are such a good decision maker!”. Everyone wins, feeling good after the moment is over that no one was more upset than was necessary, with happy memories instead of red eyes or behaviour regrets. Remember, when you’re in the moment, it’s all you really have, so why not make the most of it.
Note: This works for older kids too! If your child has chosen to “do it by their big self” yet is moving at a snail’s pace to further demonstrate that they are in control, you can say “Helping you in 5, 4, 3…” and you will see them pick up the speed.