The When-Then Strategy


stepping-stones-1216274-mRaising kids is no easy task; even the innocents who have yet to become Moms and Dads can tell you that.

But that’s not to say there aren’t some helpful tips and practices to help us through the rough spots.

When kids are asked to pitch in and help around the house, tasks such as putting the clean dishes away or folding a load of laundry can often be preceded by whining, “Why Me?”.  Eventually the parent has to raise their voice, yelling at their child until he or she gives in and completes the simple chore.

Yelling at your child is something that most people have done, but no one is proud of. Yelling, threatening to take away privileges and arguing back and forth are negative actions that usually amount to negative outcomes.

One Simple Idea

The When – Then strategy is a simple way to go from the repeat – remind – explode cycle to the parent who stands their ground and gets things done!

When -Then is simply choosing your words when informing your child that a chore needs to be completed in such a way as to avoid questions or negotiations. For example: instead of saying “ If you don’t clean your room, you can’t check your Facebook”, a savvy parent would say “ When you clean your room, Then you can check your Facebook”. When – Then consists of four simple ground rules:

  1. The privilege in question must be important to the child. If he/she isn’t much interested in playing outside, taking away outdoor playtime isn’t going to move them to get the job done.
  2. Speak to your child in a calm voice, and make sure to emphasize the words ‘when’ and ‘then’. After a few days of using this strategy, these two words will let your child know that you mean business.
  3. Walk away and disengage! If you stand in front of your child after stating When – Then, the opportunity to argue, whine, etc. is presented. Take away the audience, and all that is left is to complete the task.
  4. Last but not least don’t give in! If the task is not completed, make sure there is no Facebook time, no going out with friends, no soccer practice. This will let them know you mean business, and will make the When – Then strategy more effective every time you use it.

Reframing your instructions using this simple strategy can make your role as a parent more enjoyable and lead to a more peaceful household.

Of course as your children develop you can involve them in meaningful negotiation about roles and responsibilities along with privileges and rewards.



About Author

School Mum

Being a mum to 3 kids (one of them full time at home with me) and trying to juggle everything became pretty crazy.

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