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

The two steps to understanding your child

The most important thing to focus on to get kids (or adults) to listen and cooperate.

When I asked Dr. Heather Wittenberg, a practicing psychologist specializing in the development of babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, for her best strategy to get kids to listen and cooperate, she said:

Understanding where the child is coming from. First and foremost, what their goal is. Expressing to them that you understand what their goal is, and you sympathize with it. But you need them to do it your way for now. Really expressing that you understand where they’re coming from.

Dr. Heather Wittenberg

Here's the thing: getting kids (or adults, for that matter) to listen and cooperate is all about first viewing the world from their viewpoint. Instead of focusing on what you want, first focus on understanding what they want.

Or, as famous negotiation expert Jim Camp put it:

We greatly enhance our opportunity for a successful deal by putting the adversary first in our mission and purpose.

Jim Camp - Start With No

But how do you understand where your child is coming from?

The first step is to have a basic understanding of the personality of your child.

In the interview with Dr. Wittenberg, she shares the five most common personalities of young children that she identified in her work with children: the Tornado, the Eager Beaver, the Hippie Child, the Mule, and the Accountant.