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You don’t have to discuss everything with your child. Sometimes you just have to give a clear instruction.

Don’t turn a statement into a question. Instead of saying, ‘It’s time to leave the playground in five minutes, OK?’ simply say, ‘We’re leaving in five minutes’. Don’t ask for your child’s permission. But you might want to briefly explain your logic, remembering that an explanation is not the same as a negotiation.

Offer choices only when there really is a choice. Be clear about negotiable and non-negotiable situations. If your child refuses to go to school, you might say, ‘I know you don’t feel like going to school today. We still have to leave in ten minutes’.

Don’t let discussions go on too long. If there really is no choice about the outcome, too much talking just postpones what is going to happen anyway. If need be, walk away from your child or get involved in some other activity.

Be clear when there are no choices
Don’t negotiate or talk about everything. At times, a parent simply needs to make a decision, explain why she’s made it and then fulfil it. Discussing further might not help. But briefly explaining why will.
– Michael Thompson, PhD, co-author of Raising Cain
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  • Last updated or reviewed 27-05-2010
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