Honey or Vinegar?

honey or vinegar

You know the expression… “you get more flies with honey than vinegar” – well the same is true with kids. You get more cooperation with a sweeter approach – INVITING COOPERATION rather than DEMANDING it.

Kids (and adults) tend to get their feathers ruffled when someone else “demands” or “commands” that they do something or stop doing something.

Imagine how you would feel if your spouse or significant other said, “I want you to clean up this room immediately!” I can only imagine the expletives that might fly in the wake of that comment.

Our kids respond the same way (although, hopefully without the expletives). When we order, correct and direct – demand cooperation or compliance – it evokes their natural fight or flight response. Since kids can’t easily flee – they fight back. They fight back actively with back talk, attitude or a tantrum. Or, they fight back passively by totally ignoring the request.

In either case, it’s their way of saying, “You may think you’re the boss of me, but you’re not.”

Instead of “demanding compliance” or barking orders, try some of the following approaches:

  1. INVITE COOPERATION – “I have a ton of stuff to pack before we leave for the pool, anything you can do to help in the kitchen would be really appreciated.”
  2. MAKE AN OBSERVATION – “The orange juice is still out.”
  3. LEAVE A NOTE – “Thanks for turning off the lights before you leave the room.”
  4. USE “I FEEL” Statements – “I feel disrespected when you leave your towels and clothes laying on the floor. It would really help me a lot if you would put them away when you’re done with them.”

Shifting your tone from one of “demanding” to “inviting” will begin to shift your kids’ behavior from battling to cooperating.

About the Author

Amy McCready
Nationally recognized parenting expert Amy McCready is the Founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and the best selling author of The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic - A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World and If I Have to Tell You One More Time…The Revolutionary Program That Gets Your Kids to Listen Without Nagging, Reminding or Yelling. As a “recovering yeller” and a Certified Positive Discipline Instructor, Amy is a champion of positive parenting techniques for happier families and well-behaved kids. Amy is a TODAY Show contributor and has been featured on CBS This Morning, CNN, Fox & Friends, MSNBC, Rachael Ray, Steve Harvey & others. In her most important role, she is the proud mom of two amazing young men.