Calm/Assertive Procedures like this one give kids two choices and two choices only. Kids can either:
- Be cooperative
- Suffer the consequences of not being cooperative
Either way, we can be calm and empathetic because we do not allow this third option to exist:
- Do whatever you want, develop bad behaviors, and become a person people don’t want to be around
The possibility of allowing choice Cis what makes us angry, excitable, and sometimes irate because we love our kids and we know where kids who get to use choice C often end up.
Calm/Assertive Parenting Procedures like this one take into account all possible ways that kids will try to get to choice C. We stop those channels to Cand reroute back to either choice A or B. We do this all without ever trying to control that which we cannot control.
Here We Go…
While this one can be frustrating, after following this CAPP, you will feel silly for having made this situation so complicated in the past. Dealing with kids who refuse to put away toys or tech can be frustrating, but there is absolutely no reason to be frustrated if we do things right. This one is so easy just because we can control such a high percentage of this situation.
What Not to Do
Never warn, lecture, or use words outside of what is described in this procedure.
What to Do: Setting the Limit
Keep it simple. You are going to set the limit with words. These words will not train your kid to do anything, and we don’t even want them to be cooperative. We are just going to set a limit in a calm way that does not make it sound like the kid’s behavior is our problem (it isn’t). I will show you two ways that you can set a limit. The first involves giving a choice. Which one you choose depends on which one you feel like choosing.
Limit Setter #1:
“Which would work best? Would you like to put the toy away now, or in five minutes?”
Five minutes later, just say, “Time’s up!”
Limit Setter #2:
“Please put the toy away. Thanks!”
Again, hope that he ignores you or doesn’t put the tech/toy away immediately.
What to Do:Interventions
Warning: You can skip this if your kid really needs to learn a lesson immediately. At most, only use this intermittently.
Simply use these words with calm empathy. You will be able to be calm because you now know that you DO NOT want your kid to put away the toy/tech. You want him to refuse or procrastinate so that he will learn that these behaviors (refusal and procrastination) don’t work. Here are the ONLY words that you should say. Say them while standing within arm’s length of your kid.
“What did I say about the (tech/toy)?”
Say NOTHING else.
What to Do: The Consequence
Give your kid one second to begin putting the tech/toy away. If they take 1.1 seconds or longer, as you are taking the tech/toy away, sadly say these words:
Firmly but slowly take the toy/tech out of the kid’s hands. If they resist, that’s great. This, coupled with the sad, calm response of, “Oh, dear,” says to your kid, “I love you, I’m stronger than you, and your tech/toy is going away. This is very sad for you.”
Put the tech/toy away somewhere that your kid cannot get it. For older kids, this may have to be under lock and key.
If kids complain, simply replace everything that you are tempted to say by repeating what you have already said:
If your kid asks when he will get the tech/toy back, simply say, “It depends on how well you listen when I ask you to do things. I guess we’ll have to see.” This creates a super-charged intervention that you can use to guide your kid towards better decisions related to being cooperative (See below).
Keep the tech/toy for a long time regardless of how cooperative your kid is. For a 3-year-old, keep the object for at least a week. For a 17-year-old, keep it for at least a month. If your kid never becomes cooperative, keep it forever or pawn it. If you do this correctly, however, that won’t happen.
What to Do: The Super-Charged Intervention
During this “probationary period” where you have the toy/tech, use this Super-Charged Intervention.
Whenever your kid is cooperative and does what he is asked by an authority figure, notice it. Simply say, “I noticed you listening to your grandpa and clearing the table immediately.” Or, “I noticed that you took out the trash the second that I asked you.”
These interventions are supercharged because they are directly related to an ongoing consequence. Kids will keep a mental scorebook when they know that with each positive behavior, they are closer to getting something that they want. This is real-life training. The adult says, with his actions, that the kid can only have things if he is cooperative and is using the tech/toy in a pro-social way. The kid then exhibits pro-social behaviors, or suffers the consequences of living without something he enjoys.
After the positive behavior is noticed, they are likely to ask if they can have their tech/toy back. The answer is no, but let them know that you did notice the positive behavior. Only give the tech/toy back when you are sure that there has been a change in the behavior. See the aforementioned time guidelines, and use your best judgment.
- Do not forget to be calm and empathetic. Any anger or threats will create a power struggle. When this procedure is followed as taught, it removes the temptation to use anger, because we are not trying to do the impossible (enforcing limits with words).
- For tech that is too large to be conveniently put away, just disconnect. Use the same procedure (Use “Oh, dear.”) as you take the power cord for the TV, for example. Hint: if this happens, don’t bother to turn off the TV. It’s more fun and dramatic for the screen to go dark from being unplugged. If the plug doesn’t become disconnected from the TV, take the HDMI, component or S-Video cord.
- If your kid is bigger and stronger than you, and you can’t take the toy/tech out of their hands, just take it later.