Expert Parenting Advice
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How to turn one piece of apple into more

The 3 things children need so they want to listen.

I was watching my two kids, Sarah and Fred, eat an apple today.

I cut the apple into quarters, and gave them both two pieces.

But Sarah, my 4-year-old, wasn't happy. She wanted more apple than her brother, because she felt her brother had gotten more chips earlier.

"I'm not going to cut another apple," I told her. "Just eat what you have."

"No, it is unfair. I want more apple than Fred. He got more chips," she replied.

"Well, I'm not cutting any more apple," I repeated.

Then she made a plan. She went into the kitchen, got her special kid-safe knife, and started cutting her apple quarters into small pieces.

When she had a bowl full of small apple pieces, she smiled. "Now I have lots more than Fred!"

Problem solved. She felt good because things were fair again. Her brother had gotten more chips, and she had more apple pieces.

The thing is, everyone wants to feel that things are fair. But kids especially need to feel that things are fair, because so much is out of their control.

Dr. Anna Martin, a Clinical Therapist who I interviewed recently, discovered in her PhD research that there are 3 things that children need from parents so that they want to listen and cooperate.

And one of those things is that they need to feel that their parents are fair.

According to Dr. Martin, in order for children to want to cooperate, they need to feel that you are making decisions in their best interests. And when they feel you are being unfair, it is critical to help them understand why you made the decisions you made.

The child may never see it as fair. For example you take an older child and they want to go to a party and the parent thinks, "No, this is going to be an unsafe party." The child is never going to see that as okay. They'll just think it's unfair.

But it's really important for parents to explain that, not by way of defending their decision, but to help the child learn how you've got there.

Dr. Anna Martin

The simple fact is that the more your children perceive you as being fair, the more they will listen and the easier it will be to get them to cooperate.

In the interview with Dr. Martin, she shares the 3 things that children need so that they want to listen, and also what to do when your child accuses you of being "unfair".