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Cooperative Children - the How To guide

Cooperative Children - the How To guide

As our children grow they need to learn to make decisions for themselves. Our job as parents is to help them with this.

If you find that they watch TV instead of doing their homework, or whine for sweets for twenty minutes while you are at the supermarket rather than wait patiently, then the following techniques can be used to deal with these and other uncooperative behaviours.

Golden rules

  • Stay calm
  • Be consistent
  • Be realistic


Select your key phrase, which you will need to repeat calmly throughout.
Example: “WHEN you have done your homework THEN you may watch TV.”
Example: “WHEN you can speak to me in a sensible voice THEN we will talk about what you want to ask.”

Always phrase this in a positive fashion. This bit is very hard as it is instinctive for us to say “Stop whining” or “Get that TV turned off”, both of which are negative phrases. In other words, give your child a POSITIVE, clear instruction about you want them to do, not what you want them to stop doing.

Be prepared to negotiate a little. A child may ask for five minutes to complete part of a game or watch a show, and then be quite happy to co-operate.

If your child is still non-compliant after, say, three or four requests, tell them that if they will not respect your wishes, you will need to impose a consequence. Remain calm!

Getting serious

Only move to this stage when you have tried the above

State what you want your child to do and the consequences of non-compliance

Example: “I have asked you to do your homework. If you do not co-operate then you will be grounded for three days/have no pocket money this week/will have no computer for 48 hours.”

Only choose a sanction you will definitely be able to carry out; telling your child they will be off the internet for a month is rather impractical, as is grounding them for more than a few days.

Continue to stay calm, even if you impose the sanction. Emphasise that you have given your child a choice and they have chosen the behaviour that leads to these consequences

Top Tips

  • Above all, stay calm. If you lose your temper, your child has distracted you from your intention.
  • When using “When...then” repeat the same key phrase several times and make it POSITIVE.
  • Give your child a warning that you will be moving on to consequences.
  • Choose a realistic consequence.
  • Appeal to a higher universe; rather than saying “It’s your own fault you are grounded”, say “The rule was that if you made that choice then you would be grounded so that is the end of it. Maybe next time you will make a different choice”... and leave the room!
  • Do not feel guilty and reverse the sanction, otherwise you have undone all your good work

"We had a good day today as my attitude has shifted since I joined you guys. I feel so much more positive already as I feel I have the tools to move forward now and its all thanks to you."

Read about Reward Charts for Younger Children

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