WHEN TRYING TO PERSUADE an adult to do something they have an aversion to, we try to come up with as many reasons as we can why they should follow our instructions. It doesn’t work that way with children. Here’s a typical series of instructions:
- Eat your dinner, before it goes cold.
- Eat it now, it’s delicious. Look, I’m eating it.
- Why don’t you want it? You enjoyed it last time I made it.
- Come on, eat up, I spent hours cooking it.
- If you don’t finish you won’t get any ice cream afterwards.
- Think of the children in Africa who are starving.
Each time the child refuses to eat, they’re given a different reason why they should do so. It’s simply confusing. Choose a single reason, and stick to your guns.
If you say No, mean it
Every parent has experienced the problem of being ground down by persistent nagging. The very worst phrase you can use to your children is “Oh, all right then.”
It may have taken them ten minutes to get you to cave in. Next time it may take twenty. Or half an hour. They don’t care. If nagging gets results eventually, kids have all the time in the world.