How to get children to cooperate

Gordon Neufeld, PhD Psychologist and Author, explains how resistance is a natural instinct in children and shares tips on how to overcome this and get children to cooperate
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How to get children to cooperate

Resistance is a very natural instinct. It is in all of us. In fact, it is part of again the attachment repetoire that a child automatically resists doing the bidding of, doing the will of those that they are not attached to. The term I use for it is counter will. I borrowed that term from psychoanalysts, an Austrian psychoanalyst from about 100 years ago, Otto Rank. And counter will is huge with children. In other words, they were born difficult. And we have to realize this. They were not born to do the bidding of anybody just simply because they are the teacher or the parent. What is meant to trump this instinct is attachment. But it is not enough that a child has a relationship with somebody, a relationship with stepdad or mom or whatever, the attachment instincts need to be engaged. And this is a mistake we make. We thing because I am the dad or the stepmom or whatever, I can simply tell a child what to do. Because I am the teacher, I can tell a child what to do. Or first thing in the morning, I can say hurry up. You know what happens both to your kid and to your spouse. They slow down. If you tell them they must eat their peas, it is the last thing they want to do. We all have this. We only want to be good for those to whom we are attached. We are naturally allergic to cohersion from anybody else. It is the most natural instinct in the world. What we need to do is to know how to trump this instinct in our children. Again, it is very simple. I have spoken to it in other videos. What you always need to do is do not interact with the child cold. You make sure that you engage first. You connect first. It is a matter of connecting the eyes and then the smiles and then a few nods. And when you get the eyes, the smile and some nods, now you say will you hurry up. Will you help me set the table? The child is already nodding. You have engaged the most powerful force in the universe to be on your side but when we do not engage a child first, all we have is trouble.

Gordon Neufeld, PhD Psychologist and Author, explains how resistance is a natural instinct in children and shares tips on how to overcome this and get children to cooperate


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Gordon Neufeld, PhD

Psychologist & Author

Dr. Gordon Neufeld is a Vancouver-based developmental psychologist with over 40 years of experience with children and youth and those responsible for them. A foremost authority on child development, Dr. Neufeld is an international speaker, a bestselling author, Hold On to Your Kids and a leading interpreter of the developmental paradigm. Dr. Neufeld has a widespread reputation for making sense of complex problems and for opening doors for change. While formerly involved in university teaching and private practice, he now devotes his time to teaching and training others, including educators and helping professionals. His Neufeld Institute is now a worldwide organization devoted to applying developmental science to the task of raising children. Dr. Neufeld appears regularly on radio and television. He is a father of five and a grandfather of three.

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