The first thing you want to do, is you’ve got to recognize whether or not it’s a “can’t do” or “won’t do” kind of situation. In a can’t do situation, they’re not ready or capable of doing something. In a Won’t do situation, there’s some respect and some defiance issues.
For instance, one of the things that my husband Titus and I have learned a lot with our son Beckett; with him being adopted and bringing him over from China, he had a huge language barrier. And just now after 14 months, he’s really understanding exactly what we’re saying and we can understand him for a good part of what he’s saying. We’re really getting this communication down. But man, those first six to nine months, were tough because he just did not understand what we were trying to tell him. And likewise, it wasn’t that he couldn’t do it because he didn’t want to do it. It’s just, he could not do it because he couldn’t understand.
Now, if it’s a won’t do situation, this means they’re being defiant. Like, “No, I’m not going to do it.” They cross their arms or roll their eyes. Won’t do is all about them making a conscious choice that they are not going to do what you tell them to do, and it has to do with respect.
Okay, so let’s talk about how to address some of these situations and give you guys some actual practical strategies. If your child is at the age of eight or under, I would like for you to start consciously working on giving less commands at a time. So, three-step commands down to one-step commands. This way you can test whether or not it’s a can’t do situation or won’t do situation.
Sometimes we think that our kids can do stuff more than what we think, and sometimes we baby them and we don’t give them enough to do. I get both sides of the spectrum. But here’s what I have learned from working with children but mostly Beckett, has been a supreme teacher of this.
There’s so many times where I think that he is more capable of doing things than he really is. Like, “Let’s go. I want you to brush your teeth, get your backpack.” Or, “Put your shoes on,” or, “Pick up those toys.” Like literally, pick up all the toys in their room.
You have to think about all the toys that are in the room. There’s more than one object, two objects. So then we have to get down to, “Okay, pick your truck up. Good. Pick this up. Good.” And you go, “Gosh Jennifer, that sounds really frustrating.” It is but you need to start thinking about this as training for your kids. It’s not parenting, okay? I hate that term, “parenting”.
I want you to start getting a different mentality. Yeah, it’s parenting in a sense, because you need to be a parent, and you need to do it. But when I teach martial arts to kids, I don’t think of it as, “I’m parenting children.” No, I’m teaching children in the way that they should go.
Now granted, I’m not with them 24/7, but do I have an impact on their lives? Absolutely. You will have more of an impact, think about being a teacher for your child and it’s going to change your mentality. So, bring it down to smaller commands like “Brush your teeth and get in bed” or “Pick up your clothes and put your towel up.” If your child is younger than 7 y/o, try a one step command.