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"It's time to..." try this way to help your kids follow through

Leanne Page | Feb 2, 2023

Has this ever happened to you?


Mom: “Will you pick up your toys?”

Kid: “No.”


Mom: “Do you want to come to the dinner table?”

Kid: “No.”


Mom: “Are you ready to brush your teeth?”

Kid: “No.”


When you ask your child if they want to do something- a perfectly appropriate response is “nope”. When do they want to do things like brush their teeth, put on their shoes, come to the table? 


There are two ways to consider this situation from a behaviorist viewpoint:

  1. Change your wording so that you aren’t just going to be told no constantly.
  2. Make sure your child knows how to say no/ refuse things appropriately to prevent problem behavior


This week we are going to look at door #1. If you’re interested in teaching your child to refuse, check out this older post of mine.


There are things every single day we NEED our kid to do. Those super fun daily routines that grown-ups do because we know they are necessary. Things like brushing teeth, dressing appropriately for the weather, eating healthy foods, cleaning up our homes so we don’t trip over everything, buckling up in the car, the list goes on and on.


So instead of saying these things:

  • Will you…
  • Can you…
  • Do you want to…
  • Are you ready to…


Try this instead:

  • It’s time to…


The clock is saying it’s time to brush teeth. Who wants to argue with the clock? It doesn’t argue back. Mom isn’t just bossing you around to brush your teeth- it’s just time to. You can try to get into a power struggle with the clock. But I think it’ll end pretty quickly. 


I don’t know about you, but I don’t love bossing my kids around. It doesn’t feel good. It’s the not the fun mom persona I thought I would have. So I like blaming the clock for these things. “It’s time to get ready for school…” Not mom asking you over and over because I’m bossy or I want you to get ready for school. It’s just time for that.


Routines, visuals, and clocks are all simple behavior tools to help create a little structure, a little support, and take a little pressure off your relationship with your child. Using these tools makes it more about following routines and systems and less about obeying mom and bossing your kids around. That sounds like a major mom win to me and a much easier day for your child! 


This week try saying this:

  • It’s time to…

Not that:

  • Will you…
  • Can you…
  • Do you want to…
  • Are you ready to…

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