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A parenting tip from the Godfather

A big reason why kids don't want to cooperate or do things to annoy you.

I was reading a 1976 Rolling Stones interview with Marlon Brando (who played the godfather in the first Godfather movie) today.

He was talking about why kids like movies, and he said something very interesting:

But with kids, because they have no representation, because they are so dependent, all they think about is power. Dinosaurs or the Million Dollar Man, because they feel so helpless, because they have no way out of it, except fantasy. Because they are only that tall.

Marlon Brando

Here's the thing: kids often feel powerless. And when they feel powerless, they start behaving in negative ways to get some power.

This might mean that they start doing things to annoy you, because making you upset gives them a feeling of power.

Or it might mean that they start taking power where they do have control, like refusing to eat dinner, refusing to go to the bathroom, or refusing to sleep.

If you want your kids to cooperate, then you need to understand how to help fill your child's need for power and control in a positive way.

When I spoke to Anna Seewald, the host of the parenting podcast Authentic Parenting for our book How To Get Kids To Listen, she explained why it is so important to help your kids feel power:

Oftentimes we want our children to cooperate. Meaning we want them to do the things we want them to do in that very moment we ask them to do.

But children are different human beings. They have their own life, they have their own moods, they have their own stressors. We want to consider that they are a person, and we want to respect that. Maybe they’re not in the mood to clean their room that day at that very moment.

So, we don’t want to turn situations like that into a power struggle. You want to give them more autonomy. Autonomy is one of the crucial emotional needs of children.

Anna Seewald

Anna then shared a simple "Power Struggle Prevention" technique that you can use to get your kids to cooperate when you know they don't really want to.

This "Power Struggle Prevention" method works because it puts your kid in control. And because they are in control, they become more eager to actually do what you want them to do.

Best of all, it doesn't require you to do much - all you have to do is ask them two simple questions, and then walk away. No yelling or nagging required.

The sooner you learn how to give your kids power in a positive way, the less you'll have to deal with negative, annoying behavior.