I Love Enforceable Statements!
Once I learned this skill, I stopped nagging and reminding and warning. I stopped telling my children (and husband and employees) what to do and just started saying what I would do! Love and Logic has lists of them (click here). Honestly, we have ALL been happier. (What was I like before?!)
The basic idea is this. If you give a child (or anyone) an order, they perceive it as
"fighting words" or at least subconsciously as a battle for who is in control. But if you use "thinking words" instead and you'll be pleasantly surprised at the results. What a great way to set limits!
I invite you to experiment. See if it works.
Instead of: I gave you your allowance yesterday and already you are asking for more money...(etc. etc. etc. - Lecture time!)
Try: Oh maaaan! (Said with sincere empathy). I am so sorry. I give allowance on Thursday. I am sorry you are short. Don't worry, Thursday is coming in just a few days.
Instead of: Don't talk to me like that!
Try: I listen to children whose voices are as calm and quiet as mine.
Instead of : We have to leave in 15 minutes. Breakfast is important. Get in here and eat right now! (Plus additional lecturing and threats)
Try: Breakfast will be on the table from 7-7:30. Feel free to get all you need to hold you until lunch time!"
Instead of: Clean your room!
Try: I give rides to the mall to anyone with a clean room.
Feel free to clean your room anytime before you join us for dinner. (This works best on a night
when you have cooked their favorite meal. If they don't have their room clean in time then lead with empathy and say "That is so sad. Don't worry. Dinner will be on the table for another 30 minutes. feel free to join us when your room is clean. If you can't get it done then at least you know we'll have a great breakfast in the morning.")
I know the above is hard but once children know you will indeed let them experience the consequences of their actions they will start thinking about their own behavior.