I've recently observed a lot of parenting and I must admit that it's left me baffled and overly cynical. My primary question is this: What do you do when a pre-schooler, say 4-5 years old, refuses to perform routine tasks? I mean the sorts of things that they've already done nearly 100 times by this age. Furthermore, I'm only referring to cases where you tell them to do something and they don't do it. The child has clearly heard you, they don't argue, and tantrums are not an issue here. The problem is that they simply do not do the task.
I'll use the example of telling them to get changed. After your first instruction has failed, I've seen the following unsuccessful approaches:
- You threaten them, the child understands that they're being threatened and cries. Now that they are crying, they are no longer able to complete the task in question.
- You try to reason with them and explain why it's in their interest to complete the task. As their age is in the single digits, this fails.
- You lie and hope that they fall for it without it causing them to distrust you or believe ridiculous things. This is at best a risky approach.
- You exercise the patience of a saint, and repeat your instruction again and again until it is followed. Assuming that you have this patience, this approach will fail as soon as you're on a time constraint.
- You seek a medical solution of some sort. As your child is usually probably not significantly ill, this probably fails.
- You offer them some sort of reward for the task. Even if this works, it is not sustainable and will eventually fail.
- You give up and do the task for them. This is an automatic failure.
What other sensible approaches exist? For fear of this being an opinion-based question, note that I'm not asking for a best approach, I'm only looking for a summary of what methods are often suggested in the literature or are used in practice.