What This Is Like from a Parent’s Perspective


There are  times of the day when things have to go a certain way: You have to get out of the house on time. The kids have to get to bed at a certain time.

So when you try to get kids to do what they’re supposed to do and they resist…

…when morning routines are a constant struggle

… and bedtime routines end in fights and tears

You feel awful about the day-to-day tasks that should be so much easier.


What This Is Like From a Child’s Perspective


Kids have ideas about how they want their day to go… and it rarely goes the way they want it to.

They don’t want to rush in the morning; they want more down time to play.

They don’t want to go to bed. They want to be with their parents, who they haven’t had much fun time with that day. It’s not easy for them to just “lie there” in bed when they could be doing something else.

They know what they’re supposed to do, but they can’t just MAKE themselves want those things.

They follow their natural instincts and people get mad at them for it.

They try do to better, but the next day it’s the same thing.



How It Usually Goes When

Kids Have to Do Something They Do Every Day


Scenario: It’s 7:20, and Andrew and his dad have to be in the car by 7:30. Andrew just has to finish breakfast and get his shoes and coat. Andrew’s dad notices that he is nowhere near finished eating breakfast, let alone getting shoes or his coat.


Dad: Andrew, hurry up and eat!

Andrew: I am!

Dad: No you’re not, you’re staring out into space.

Andrew: I’m not! (He starts to eat but gets distracted again and stops eating.)

Dad (yells): Andrew! It’s 7:25! You need to eat and get your shoes and jacket on!

Andrew: Dad, stop it! (He starts to cry.)

Dad: We have to go! You’re going to make us late… Again!

Andrew stops eating because he’s so upset. He’s no closer to leaving the house than he was 10 minutes ago.



How We Can Make Routines Easier

by Addressing Problems Proactively


Scenario: It’s 7:20, and Andrew and his dad have to be in the car by 7:30. Andrew just has to finish breakfast and get his shoes and coat. Andrew’s dad notices that he is nowhere near finished eating breakfast, let alone getting shoes or his coat.

Since this situation has happened many times, Andrew’s dad addresses it with him BEFORE the next morning.


Dad: Andrew, I’ve noticed that it’s been hard to get out of the house in the morning.

Andrew: What do you mean?

Dad: We need to leave by 7:30, but it seems like it’s hard to get everything done by then.

Andrew: That’s because you’re always yelling at me.


[expand title=”CALM”]

Andrew’s dad doesn’t like that Andrew blaming HIM for the problems in the morning. He is frustrated. However, Andrew’s dad reminds himself that he can model what it looks like to stay calm. He focuses on recognizing Andrew’s perspective instead of his behavior.

This is much easier to do when Andrew’s dad is handling the situation proactively instead of when he’s in Yuck. [/expand]


Dad: I know, Andrew.

Andrew: I don’t like it!

Dad: I understand that. I don’t think I’d want anyone yelling at me in the morning. (Pauses.) Can I tell you something that is hard for me?


[expand title=”CONNECT”]

Andrew’s dad knows that when he respects Andrew’s perspective, Andrew is more likely to respect his.

Because he’s handling the situation when he’s NOT in a rush (like he is in the mornings), it is easier for him to see Andrew’s point of view. [/expand]


Andrew: I guess.

Dad: When we have to get out of the house and you aren’t finishing your breakfast.

Andrew: I can’t help it!

Dad: I believe you. I bet you start thinking about other things while you’re eating.

Andrew: Yeah! And then I forget that I have to rush.

Dad: Yeah. I wish I COULD forget that we have to rush!

Andrew (laughs).

Dad: So what do we do?

Andrew: I don’t know.

Dad: How can we make sure you stay on track with the eating even though you start thinking about other things?


[expand title=”CORRECT”]

Andrew’s dad reiterates that Andrew needs to act responsible, despite the fact that Andrew is struggling. He’s also focusing on teaching Andrew tools instead of punishing him.

Because he is handling the situation proactively, it is easier for him to be both firm and respectful at the same time. [/expand]


Andrew: I’m not sure.

Dad: Well, sometimes you get on your shoes really fast when I ask if you can do it before I count to 10.

Andrew (excited): Yeah!

Dad: What if you set a timer and try to eat breakfast before the timer goes off?

Andrew: I could do that!

Dad: OK, should we try that?

Andrew: Yeah.

Dad: OK, but if that stops working we’re going to have to find another plan, OK?

Andrew: Yeah. Maybe after that we could try having me try to finish my breakfast while I’m listening to a song, and I’ll try to be done before it’s over.

Dad (smiles). Great idea. Let’s check back next week to see how it’s going.


Why Proactive Strategies Work


  • When situations are dealt with in between times of Yuck, Yuck is no longer an obstacle.  Without Yuck, parents stay calmer and children are less likely to be disrespectful or resistant to solutions.


  • When parents can truly listen to and connect with their children, they can identify the real reason that kids aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do. And once they know the reason, they can find a solution for that reason. 


  • Joint problem solving requires children to have a say in the plan and the consequence if the plan isn’t followed. When children have this type of control, they are more invested in making the plan work.