Thursday, August 6, 2015

When... Then... Contingencies

A big part of teaching children to be responsible and self-directed is in the delivery of directions. There are many things that children may not want to do... pick up their toys, put their shoes on, brush their teeth... and having children do these things without getting into a power struggle can be one of the most challenging parts of raising children.

With the use of when...then statements though, many of the potential power struggles can be completely averted. By keeping directions positive, children can keep their sense of control in the situation without the adult losing theirs. Here is how some of these statements may sound:
  • When your coat is on, you may go outside.
  • When your hands are washed, you may have a snack.
  • When your blocks are put away, you may play with your trains.
These contingency statements almost always begin with the word WHEN to show that you trust and expect your child to cooperate. The second part of the statement tells the child that she will have what she wants after she meets the expectation. As with all limit-setting strategies, a contingency should be stated in a neutral, non-punitive way, but with a firm expectation of cooperation.

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