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How to get your kid to want to follow house rules

How to work with your child to set in place house rules that everyone is happy with.

Several months ago, we had a big fight with our 6-year-old son over our new Amazon Alexa.

The fight was about a simple disagreement about what to listen to during dinner. Matt and I wanted to listen to relaxing jazz while eating. The kids wanted to put on their favorite song, the Fart Song - a collection of various fart noises that goes on for a loooong time.

The big problem began when my son refused to stop asking Alexa to play their fart collection during dinner.

My "Alexa, play dinner music" would immediately be followed by his "Alexa, play fart music".

Finally, we got mad and unplugged Alexa. This upset my son a lot, and the whole thing turned into a big tantrum and general upsetness.

But it is what happened next that I really want to write about today.

You see, we had just recently done an interview with Dr. Ross Greene, for our book How To Get Kids To Listen. Dr. Greene is a clinical psychologist and best-selling author of Raising Human Beings and The Explosive Child.

In his work with kids, he also developed a model that he calls the Collaborative & Proactive Solutions (CPS) model to help children with concerning behavior.

What Dr. Greene explained to me was that, when your child is "misbehaving", instead of focusing on the behavior (a symptom) it is much more effective to try to understand what the real problem is that is causing the behavior and then work with your child to solve this underlying problem.

He explained that what we see as misbehavior is instead the child having a problem and struggling to meet our expectations, and this is often because they lack certain core skills.

He also explained that the way to deal with this is to work with your child to solve these problems.

So that evening of the Alexa incident, after everyone had calmed down, we sat down with my son and his diary.

Using the procedure that Dr. Greene shared in the interview, we worked out a plan for using Alexa with my son.

Then we wrote the plan down in his diary. We called it the Alexa Usage Plan. It is our house rules for using Alexa.

And you know what? Since that day, we have not had any major Alexa incidents again.

My son often refers to our Alexa Usage Plan. When we have disagreements about Alexa use, he brings his diary and reviews our plan.

And because he had a part in developing the plan, he feels like it is his plan as well, and he actually wants to follow it.