I live in Minnesota and we have what is known as “The Minnesota Goodbye”. This is when people put their coats on and then stand at the door talking for half an hour before they finally leave. Minnesota children know this. So when they are told to help pick up the toys and put their coats on, they know they actually have a good thirty minutes to play.
It is pretty humerous unless you really have to leave and your child shows no sign of moving when you tell them to get ready. Most of the time, when children don’t comply, it is because parents don’t stand behind their words.
These are some suggestions that I have heard from parents as well as a few of my own:
1. Be ready to do the next thing yourself before giving orders to a child. For example, be ready to leave within a short time after you’ve told them to get ready to leave. Be ready to have story time as soon as they get their pj’s on.
2. Don’t give threats you can’t carry through. For example, if your child is supposed to clean her room before going to Grandma’s house, don’t say, “If you don’t…you won’t go to Grandma’s”, unless this is the case. If you need to introduce a consequence, choose one that you can and will follow through on.
3. Follow through on a consequence even if it inconveniences you. I remember a dad telling my parenting group that his son was supposed to do certain chores before he could go to a friend’s house. He managed to slip away without doing the chores. The dad took the time to retrieve his son from his friend’s house and and bring him home to do the chores.
4. Check on them. Did they do the job or not? I heard parents confess that they were too lazy to go see if the child did what they were told.
5. Be an example. If it is a rule in your house that children make their beds in the morning, parents should do it, too. Same for carrying your dishes to the the sink after eating or putting clothes in the hamper.
6. Reward compliance but not with praise. Better to show them that what they do is truly helpful. “When you carry your dishes to the kitchen, it really makes clean-up go faster.” “You are playing quietly. Now your baby sister can sleep.”