Last week I gave a talk to a group of elementary school parents about ways to decrease nagging their children. The talk packed in the information from three or four parent coaching sessions. It was full of specific suggestions for behaviors for parents to try. I know that this approach works because I have used it on many occasions with all sorts of parents.

When you sum up the steps it really comes down to cultivating a better relationship. In fact, it works with anyone in your life. You try to communicate clearly with others in ways that they can understand. And you appreciate whatever people does that pleases you or helps you out.

People are most likely to be cooperative in a family or a business when they feel appreciated. In a families we all need to feel cared for. This really comes before looking for cooperation, and it is an aspect that can be lost in very busy lives.

I like to give people specific recommendations, so one suggestion I often give parents is to spend some time each day (maybe only fifteen minutes) with your recalcitrant child. In those minutes you do with your child whatever she would like (within the bounds of behavior in your home). So, if your child wants to watch a TV show with you, that’s what you do. If your child wants help with a new lego set, that’s what you do. Parents are often surprised to see the results of this simple change. The hard parts of it are being regular, and resisting the temptation to use the time to pursue your goals. This is a way you cultivate the relationship so that you can be more successful in eliciting cooperation later.

There is a second way to cultivate a relationship in which your children will be more cooperative. That is to offer empathy when your child is frustrated or upset. Here’s a lovely blog post on that topic. Let’s face it—we all like to feel understood. It is a gift we can give our children and family members. When we feel understood, we are more likely to want to work together.

I am not saying this is easy. It isn’t. But these steps are investments in relationship that pay back very well. Furthermore, these investments cost no money. They have nothing to do with material gifts. They have to do with the gift of your presence and your understand—the most valuable gift.

Author's Bio: 

Parent Coach and Licensed Psychologist, Carolyn Stone, Ed.D. ( educates parents of children with learning disabilities, ADHD, Asperger Syndrome and anxiety about their children’s needs using humor and evidence-based practices. Parents learn new strategies through role play and homework. She teaches children to manage their anxiety and attention and to understand their learning styles. You can learn about Dr. Stone’s work from her blog at