In order for your child to succeed in getting what they want, they will need the skills to communicate effectively.
In this article I am using the example of my five year old wanting me to fill his water bottle for him.
Rather than me guessing what he wanted and doing it straight away, I used this opportunity to help him figure out for himself how to get the outcome he wanted, in the best way.
Mr Five held his water bottle at me and shook it. This is universal child language for requesting a refill.
I looked at him blankly and asked "Do you want there to be more water in that bottle?"
He nodded, and shook it again.
"Well then, how are you going to get more water in there? Perhaps you could ask someone for help?"
He had to stop and think. He knew that I knew what he wanted. But I wasn't getting him the water. His unspoken request hadn't worked.
His next attempt to get what he wanted was an even stronger non-verbal request. He gave me 'The Look'.
I had a chuckle as I responded, "That's a strong look you're giving me. Is it working though?"
"Hmm... best try another way of asking then"
Using a friendly, helpful voice to steer them into problem solving helps prevent anger and frustration.
He tried a rather lame attempt at a tantrum.
"Try something else, I bet you'll figure it out soon"
He yelled "Get me water!" and pushed out a tear drop for effect.
"Gee that was very direct and clear. Did it work?"
"No", as he wiped away the tear that didn't work after all.
"Maybe try something using a talking voice this time?" I smile at him with encouragement.
"I need water so I can be healthy Mummy"
I think to myself that he is very clever to think of using guilt to get what he wants. I decided not to say so out loud - he's only five after all.
"That's right you do. That's good communicating your needs with me. Does it have me filling up the bottle for you yet though?"
"Hmm.. this is a toughie. Keep trying, you'll get there"
He thinks. I can see that he's nearly worked out the best way to communicate effectively with his mother. I give him a wink to encourage him.
"Can you please fill up my water bottle?"
"Yes, I can! I like how you thought up lots of different ideas to get what you wanted. Excellent thinking!"
When I handed him his refilled water bottle I reinforced the technique that led to his success by saying, "I really liked it when you spoke clearly and used the word 'please'. When people use manners to ask me for things, I feel nice. Feeling nice makes me want to make them feel nice too, so I help them".
Once your child has figured out what works best on you, they won't need to go through the whole process again. They will choose to go straight to success.
You will notice that they use this same process on everyone, to work out what works with that person.
Occasionally tantrums or being demanding really are the most effective techniques. It all depends on what leads to them getting what they want.
In the best cases, this will mean choosing to use manners and polite speaking voices.
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