How to Win a Child’s Desire to Co-operate

In almost every workshop I do, whether with parents, childcare providers or teachers, the desire is expressed for the children in their life to cooperate.Listening

However, when adults refer to wanting children to cooperate, they often mean that they want the child to be compliant.  But the meanings of cooperation and compliance are quite different.

Compliance means obedience and submission. Cooperation means collaboration. If we break the word cooperation down, “co” means together and “operate” means to work. So the true meaning of cooperation implies working together or in partnership.

Now I’m not saying that there aren’t times when we need children to follow through on our instructions, but what adults really need to be focusing on, for the most part, is true cooperation – which is really about working WITH a child and showing respect towards him or her.

The word With is important here. When I refer to winning a child’s cooperation, I mean working with him or her or winning his or her desire to work with you.

Dr. Jane Nelsen, author of Positive Discipline outlines four steps for winning a child’s cooperation. They include:

  1. Express understanding for the child’s feelings. Be sure to check with him or her to see if you are right.
  2. Show empathy without condoning. Empathy does not mean you agree or condone. It simply means you understand the child’s perception.
  3. Share your feelings and perceptions. If the first two steps have been done in a sincere and friendly manner, you will have created a connection and the child will be ready to listen to you.
  4. Invite the child to focus on a solution. Ask if he has any ideas on what to do in the future to avoid the problem. If he doesn’t, offer some suggestions. After making a list of several solutions, choose one that feels helpful to both of you.

Dr. Nelsen emphasizes that an attitude of friendliness, caring, and respect are essential to these steps.

In my Discipline with Influence Online Parenting course, I devote a good chunk of time to giving parents information related to how they can problem solve WITH a child and thus invite cooperation from him or her.

In almost every case when parents and other adults transition into a collaborative approach to problem solving WITH children they are amazed at how effective it is!  Problem solving WITH the child is respectful to all involved and serves to help the child take ownership of the problem.

One more way to discipline with influence!

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Do You Parent and Discipline by Default?

Do you parent by default?Mother argue her son

By that I mean do you use the same parenting and discipline methods that your own parents did?

Many, if not most parents do. That’s because they’ve never really thought it through as to whether this is the best way to parent or not. It may be or it may not be.

“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences.”
Margaret J Wheatly

I spend a fair bit of time in the Discipline with Influence Parent Program guiding parents through reflections on how they were raised.

I ask questions such as:

  • How do you think your parents’ discipline methods have affected you as an adult?
  • How do you think your parents’ discipline methods and parenting practices affect how you parent and discipline your own children?
  • What, if any, are some things that your parents did, said or held as values that you want to repeat or pass on to your own children?
  • What, if any, are some of the less positive things that your parents did, said or held as values that you don’t want to repeat or pass on to your own children?

These are important questions to ask yourself.

Your parents may have used very positive methods or they may not have. That’s why it’s important to make a conscious decision about how you’re going to parent your own children.

In addition to the above questions you also need to ask yourself:

  • Are my parenting methods positive and will they serve to develop long term characteristics in my child such as responsibility, self-discipline and independence?
  • Does the way I discipline my child reflect up to date and research based information regarding effective discipline?

Lots to think about!

Commonly, people spend more time learning the skills for a new hobby or sport than on learning effective parenting methods.

Being a parent is the most important job on the planet. It deserves a great deal of time and effort!

“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.”
-Stephen Covey

Be a parent who is the person that your children will look back on as having the most positive influence on their life!

Hone your parenting skills by:

  • attending a parenting class or
  • reading a book such as Positive Discipline.  (I have a long list of other books I recommend, as well, but Positive Discipline is a classic and is packed full of positive parenting tools!)
  • Or take my Discipline with Influence online course! (-: Can’t resist a plug for it here! You can take it at your own pace.

Thanks for visiting my blog!

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To Punish or Not to Punish Your Child

Despite all the research that points to the necessity of a more positive response to children’s challenging behaviour, punishment is still the common “go to” for many adults in response to that challenging behaviour.Punishment Pic

But what do children learn from punishment? Do they learn to do better next time? Do they learn important life skills? The answer is most often a resounding “No”.

In my live workshops, I often ask people to think back on a time they were punished as a child. When the question is asked, most can recall an incident.

Next I ask them what they learned from being punished. Most often their responses include: “not to get caught next time”, “not to do whatever they did again (out of fear)”, or “that he or she was bad” and so on.

In my Discipline with Influence Online Parent Program, I outline a number of negative consequences that may occur as a result of punishment.

In response to punishment a child may:

  • Become defiant and rebellious.
  • Become revengeful and develop the desire to “hurt back”.
  • Develop low self-esteem. This can cause the child to withdraw and think they are a “bad person”.
  • Lie and not take responsibility for their actions.
  • Become “sneaky” with their actions. In other words, they to continue to do what they want to do anyway, they’ll just go “underground” with the behaviour.

You see, punishment involves methods that are geared towards “controlling” children. Unfortunately when we really look at it, controlling children is impossible. At least to the degree that adults think they should be able to control children or want to.

Rather than trying to control, adults need to focus on having a positive influence on children and on helping them do better next time. In other words they need to guide and teach children and give them the tools “to do well” both in the present and the future.

“Children do well when they can”. –Dr. Ross Greene

The key is to help children develop responsibility for their actions and learn from their mistakes rather than paying for them through punishment.

There are so many more effective ways to respond to children’s undesirable behaviour and so many ways to guide children towards doing well, not only behaviourly but in all areas of their life!

Be an adult that positively influences children and sets them up for success!

Visit to access my 7 module online Discipline with Influence Program. 

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Self-Regulation: An Essential Skill for Children & Young People

Chances are that you’ve heard of the Marshmallow Experiment. To a large degree the Marshmallow Experiment began the “self-regulation” movement. 

Dr. Walter Mischel of Stanford University conducted the experiment in the late 1960’s to explore the control of delayed gratification in children. As he followed their development, Mischel uncovered a strong correlation between the ability to delay gratification and future academic success and success in life.

The Marshmallow Test involved 4 year old children being alone in a room with a marshmallow in front of them and being told by the researcher that they can have the marshmallow now or if they wait 15 minutes to eat the marshmallow they will be given another marshmallow.  

Watch this version of the marshmallow test and guess what percentage of the kids you think could wait to eat the marshmallow and thus get the second marshmallow.

In Mischel’s test, around 30% of the 4 year olds could wait. 


The children who were involved in the test were then followed over the following years and it was discovered that the children who could wait to eat the marshmallow scored an average of 210 points better on their college entrance exams, did better socially and were less susceptible to drug use and other risky behaviours.


Since then, there has been an explosion of research done on self-regulation and study after study confirms that one of the major keys to a child’s success is the ability to self-regulate.


The question many ask is whether a child’s ability to self-regulate can be improved?


Canada’s leading expert on self-regulation, Dr. Stuart Shanker, knows it can!


Dr. Shanker is speaking on the subject of self-regulation at the Positive Discipline Conference in Calgary on October 25 & 26, 2013. He will be sharing extensive information on why self-regulation is such an essential skill to develop and how to set up environments so that kids can reach optimal self-regulation.


The Conference provides an outstanding opportunity for parents, teachers, caregivers and anyone who works with children to learn not only about how to help children develop self-regulation but on discipline practices that support self-regulation as well.

For more information or to register for the conference go to


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What is Effective Discipline?

Dr. Jane Nelsen, parenting expert and author of the bestselling Positive Discipline series outlines the Five Criteria for Positive And Effective Discipline.  Jane will be speaking at the Positive Discipline Conference in Calgary on October 25 & 26.

At the conference Dr. Nelsen will be delivering a keynote on:
“The Significant 7 Essential Skills for Developing Capable Children & Young People”.

She will also be facilitating the following breakout sessions:
“Positive Discipline Tools that Help Children Self-Regulate and Increase Cooperation”
“Using Behaviour Challenges to Teach Social and Life Skills”

Dr. Stuart Shanker is also a featured speaker at the conference.

For more information or to register for the conference visit:

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