Expert Parenting Advice
Practical parenting tips and advice from experts around the world

Swimming in chocolate can be dangerous

Why you need to understand what your child is capable of. And how to reduce frustration and increase cooperation when dealing with you child.

A while back I read about a workplace accident at an M&M factory.

Two workers at the factory fell into a big vat of chocolate, and had to be rescued by cutting a hole in the side of the vat.

Now, I've always dreamt about being able to dive into a big vat of chocolate and just swim around with my mouth open, so this sounded like a great "accident" when I started reading.

But the unfortunate reality is that this accident was serious, with both workers ending up in the hospital.

Here's the thing: there is always a gap between how we expect things to be, and how they actually are. And the smaller we can make this gap, in other words, the closer to reality our expectations are, the better our decisions will be.

This is true when you are pondering whether to dive into a big vat of chocolate without a plan to get out, and it is also true when you are trying to convince your kid to do something.

That's the lesson I learned from Lisa Smith when we interviewed her for our book "How To Get Your Kids To Listen".

Lisa is a parent coach, speaker, author and host of the weekly podcast, Real World Peaceful Parenting.

She focuses on helping parents creating deeper connection with their children, by teaching peaceful parenting techniques.

One thing that Lisa said stood out for me:

I spend a lot of time talking to parents about "What are kids capable of, in terms of brain development," and I really encourage parents not to ask more of their children than they're developmentally capable of. I mean, we would never ask a newborn to tie their shoes. It's silly to even say it.

Lisa Smith

The better you are able to understand what your child is actually capable of doing, the more realistic you can be when asking them to do things. This means less frustration for you, and less frustration for your child.

In the interview, Lisa also shares another important reason why it often feels like your children are not listening to you. If you don't do this one thing, your child literally cannot cooperate with you.

She has developed a four-step process for making requests from your children, to greatly increase the chance that they listen and cooperate.

I've started doing these four steps whenever I ask my kids to do something, and it definitely helps to ensure that they understand what I am asking them to do.