The #1 Reason Why Kids Don't Cooperate

kid's developing brains parenting tips Oct 20, 2022
The #1 Reason Why Kids Don't Cooperate

Do you often find yourself in a battle of wills with your kids and wish they would cooperate more easily?  When this happens I hear parents describing their kids as stubborn, difficult, obstinate, or even defiant.  They tell me that their kids know better and that they don’t understand why their kids don’t simply do what they’re supposed to.  These parents are usually frustrated, and at the end of their rope.

I understand how they feel — I had daily conversations with my son’s teachers in his early years of grade school, and I thought many of these same thoughts.  He often seemed to be doing what he wasn’t supposed to.  I was frustrated, I didn’t understand why he wasn’t doing what he was supposed to be doing.

Thankfully, my son finally had a third-grade teacher who really understood him.  She explained that his reactions and his bad behavior happened before he even realized what he was doing.  It wasn’t purposeful, and he always felt bad after.  We learned that he hadn’t learned the skills of self-control yet.  This revelation didn’t solve things overnight, but it did help change how we thought about it and how we parented through it.

Since then, so much more research has come out about how children’s brains develop, and I have learned that my son’s issue was that his brain was still under construction.  The part of his brain that would give him more self-control wasn’t fully developed yet.  When he was acting out and doing something he wasn’t supposed to, his primitive brain was in charge.  It wasn’t that he wouldn’t cooperate, it was that he couldn’t.

In terms of your interactions with your kids, I invite you to think about how your kids react when things are escalating and they are not cooperating.  It’s highly likely that they do one of three things:  They get angry and start fighting back, they try to run away or avoid you, or they shut down.   

The number one reason that kids don’t cooperate is that their primitive brain is in control, and their primitive brain only knows to do one of three things — fight, flight, or freeze.  So the key to getting more cooperation is to communicate in a way that doesn’t trigger that primitive brain.  The best news is that it’s not hard!  Once you understand how your child’s brain affects their behavior and you add a few simple communication tools to your parenting toolbox, getting to cooperation becomes so much easier. 

I’m teaching these communication skills in my upcoming online workshop: Communicate For Cooperation (not escalation).  If you are sick of battling your kids and wish they would just listen and cooperate — Click here to register and learn how to communicate like a parenting pro.

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