Giving kids power helps them cooperate

kid_power4If you’re noticing that your kids are having a difficult time cooperating or listening or generally following your lead, first let me remind you, you’re not alone.  Lots of parents go through this difficulty every day.  I know it can be super frustrating when you’re just trying to get things done, or get to the store, or follow the rules, and your child is fighting you every step of the way.

One way to encourage cooperation from kids is to designate some time each week (or day) where they get to be in charge.  Somehow by allowing kids to take the lead for even 10 minutes a day, you’ll find that they’re much more willing to allow you to take the lead for the rest of the time.  There are several ways you can do this.

First, let your child know that for the next 10 minutes, they get to be in charge, they’re the boss, the parent, or the king or queen of your home.  Tell them that as long as the activities they choose are safe, you’ll follow their lead.

You can try playing follow the leader and allow the youngest child in your household to be the leader.  Follow along as if you’re completely entranced by the activities your child is doing and encourage any other siblings to play too.  You’ll be amazed at what a difference it can make in the life of a young child when they get this time to be in charge, tell people what to do, and watch them do the silly things they’ve thought up.

If you think about it, young people get so little of this kind of play time, they’re starving for some king or queen time.  Kids are constantly told where to be, what to wear, how to act, and to “hurry up”.  Imagine how good it feels to them when they get to be the ones in charge, bossing us around for a change.  They love it!

For more games you can play that your kids will love and that will encourage their sense of power and control over their lives see my blog “Go for the giggle”.

Now you may wonder why giving kids a sense of power and control helps them follow your lead during the rest of the day.  My theory is that kids naturally want to cooperate with adults, but after denying their needs for power for days and weeks in a row, they simply explode and are unable to continue to cooperate.  When this need gets met, even for a short time each day or a few times a week, kids easily fall back into their natural role as helpers and apprentices.

Another benefit to taking time each day to reverse roles with your child is that you get to model the kind of easy cooperation you’re wanting from them.  When they’re greeted with “Good evening Sire, may I take your shoes?  Is there anything I can get you?” they begin to understand what kind cooperation, generous service, and easy collaboration look like.  So during the rest of the day, you’re much more likely to hear the very phrases you’ve used during your special play time.

Imagine hearing, “Mommy, may I take your shoes?  Is there anything I can get you?”  Ahhh, sounds like heaven.  So, during the times when you offer your child the opportunity to be in charge and to be the more powerful one, really play it up, let them know that you honor and respect them.  Be as helpful and kind as you can be with them and watch their own generosity blossom.

I’d love to hear how this goes in your family.  Please leave me a comment below.

Have a fantastic week, Shelly



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  2. […] instead, I’ve been practicing strategically giving up my power. My daughter still knows that I’m in charge and that if I feel it’s necessary, I can force her […]