Just tell your child to do it.
Sorry, this won’t work. Commands seldom do with children. But the Magic Question Method will work.
Every Monday and Thursday, you can view a new serialize chapter of The Magic Question Method, and become an expert in this wonderful life changing technique. This is #2. To read #1 click here. To get the whole story, click here for the book, The Magic Question Method
FIRST —–You must absolutely know the difference between the effectiveness of the Magic Question and of Commands.
The following are direct quotes from parents we see everyday. When you read them, they’re pretty funny. When you live them, they’re pretty frustrating.
A command is an order or a demand; it is a directive given to cause an action. Commands are given by people who are “in charge” of other people, and they imply authority, domination and control. In the military, it may be “Attention! Or Charge!” For the police, “Please step out of the car.” It’s a polite command, to which you may not say, “No!”
I’m going to take a wild guess that YOU heartily dislike being “ordered” to do something. It is not surprising, therefore, that, when we use commands with children, we tend to get resistance. Even a request from a parent can feel like a command to a child, especially if it is unexpected or if the child is involved in an activity. The polite, “Please go wash your hands for dinner,” will be reacted to as though you said, “Go wash, now!” No polite request is going to go over well if your child is in the middle of an episode of Tumble Leaf, Sesame Street, or SpongeBob–for a teen, Riverdale, Gossip Girl, or Dark.
Since children—just like adults– don’t like to feel they are being ordered around, they usually don’t respond with the “correct” answer, which would be, “Yes, I’m on it” When children don’t respond appropriately to a command, then we have to deal with the child’s inappropriate response plus what you want your child to do.
Simple everyday commands, even if sugar coated, often become a problem:
(2) “Let’s eat dinner before we watch TV, OK?”
(3) “Don’t you think you should do your homework?” are all forms of commands.
A problem has now been created unless your child:
(1) says “Yes” and runs to her room to clean it.
(2) immediately turns off the TV, or
(3) grabs the books from his backpack and starts his homework
Commands Create More Problems than Solutions
Commands create problems, for both kids and parents. Parents feel like “nags” or “the hygiene police” or “the homework Nazi”—all direct quotes from our patients. Good parents don’t want to constantly “remind” their good children to do things—day after day after day.
Use of commands inevitably have to be more forcibly and more frequently made. It may start with simply repeating, then repeating a bit more loudly. By this time, the parent may start to feel powerless, frustrated or angry. Sometimes there is a threat of punishment. If a parent has been raised with corporal punishment, the next step may be a slap or a spanking or the threat of it.
The true story of Mario and Ana
Nine year old Mario was a “scatter brain.” Worse yet he had a stubborn streak. His mom, Ana had to remind him to do his chores, schoolwork,– everything – all the time. When Ana brought him for therapy, she said Mario was completely out of control. She tried everything –talking, explaining, yelling, scolding, taking things away, getting the belt out. Nothing worked anymore.
She started spanking him. Nothing. Finally, she brought him to the office when she had put him over her knee, and spanked him so hard that her hand got red and sore. Mario did not cry. Instead, he turned to his mother and said “Is that all you’ve got?”
Fortunately, this horrid situation started to turn around when Mom learned The Magic Question Method. When Ana and Mario return a few weeks later, she said, “I think that a spaceship came down overnight and swapped him for an alien. He’s actually doing his chores now.” Did he become Saint Mario? Of course not. Just a “normal kid.” Also, Ana felt calmer (actually ‘less’ crazy in her words) when she knew how to change Mario’s behavior using the Magic Question Method .
On Monday, I’ll start to teach you the Magic Question Method, the one Ana used that turned everything around. Hint, the Magic Question is only three words, and the first two words are, “What” and “is.”
Missed the first installment? Click here!