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

A key to successful parenting: Letting go of your agenda

Why understanding your child's perspective is crucial for peaceful parenting.

A while back, my 4 year old daughter and 6 year old son were playing quietly in their room.

In fact, they were so quiet that I grew worried, as too quiet usually means mischief is afoot.

I peered into the room...

What? They were quietly building a world map puzzle together. Phew!

Relieved, I just stood there and watched them for a while. They were so engrossed, examining the pictures on each piece before trying to fit it together.

While watching them, I had a thought.

You see, each day is almost like a puzzle, with each of your children's activities and needs a piece of the puzzle.

As the parent, your goal is to build the day's puzzle. To fit all of their activities and needs together. To get your kids ready for school. To get them to school. To take them to dance, or karate, or whatever. To feed them dinner. To make them lunch.

But, for your kids, each activity or puzzle piece is something to be enjoyed. Something to explore and immerse themselves in.

They don't really care about how the puzzle fits together, as long as they get to explore and experience each piece.

Sarah Rosensweet, a peaceful parenting coach and host of the popular podcast The Peaceful Parenting Podcast, shared something similar when we interviewed her for our book How To Get Kids To Listen.

Sarah said:

"What I say to people in my community, or my clients, is that it’s helpful to recognize that your agenda is different from your child’s agenda. Like your agenda is for them to get ready for school or get ready for bed. Their agenda is to keep playing. And so, what I find works really well in terms of getting kids to listen and cooperate, is to find some way to make it fun or make it a game, or to bring play into the request."

Sarah Rosensweet

If you want to get your kids to cooperate without yelling, then it is critical that you understand how they view the world.

They live in the moment. They want to play. They don't care about the overall puzzle, they want to focus on the puzzle piece.

In the interview with Sarah, she shares some examples of how she incorporated play with her own kids to get them to cooperate.

She also shared how to use the “Stop, Drop and Breathe” technique to let go of your agenda, and focus on what your child needs in the moment.