A young girl meeting with a female psychologist in an office.

Parenting Hacks: 10 Psychological Tricks to Effectively Deal with Kids

Last Updated: April 12, 2023By Tags: , , ,

Parenting can be challenging, and sometimes parents need to employ creative strategies to manage their children’s behavior. By understanding some psychological tricks, parents can effectively navigate common parenting challenges and foster healthy parent-child relationships.

Here are 10 psychological tricks parents can use with their kids:

10. Don’t speak, whisper.

Whispering to a crying toddler can be a powerful psychological trick for parents to calm their child down. When you lower your voice to a whisper, the child is likely to quiet down in order to hear what you’re saying.

To further enhance this technique, making your words almost imperceptible can have an even greater impact. And if you throw in some words that are particularly enticing to the child, such as “apple juice” or their favorite television program, it can work even better.

This technique can help parents effectively manage tantrums and meltdowns, as the child becomes more attentive to your words and less focused on their distress. It’s a simple yet effective strategy that can be used in challenging situations to bring about a sense of calm and cooperation.

9. Ask a question instead of using a statement.

This technique, inspired by Chris Voss, a former FBI Hostage Negotiator and discussed in his book on negotiation, can also be applied in parenting young kids. Instead of giving orders, this approach involves asking your children “how” questions to help them see the solution and encourage cooperation.

For example, “How can we go to the playground if you don’t put your shirt on?” or “How can you go to the birthday party tomorrow if you don’t go to sleep tonight?” By flipping the script and asking for their input on finding a solution, it empowers children and encourages them to think critically about the situation.

While they may sometimes respond with cheeky answers, persistently asking them “how” can redirect their focus and guide them towards desired behaviors. It’s a strategic yet positive approach to parenting that fosters problem-solving skills and encourages children to take ownership of their actions.

8. Let them choose their own fate, sort of.

Giving kids choices empowers them and helps them feel a sense of control. For example, instead of saying “Do your homework now,” you can say “Do you want to do your homework before dinner or after dinner?” This gives them a sense of ownership and control over their decisions, leading to more cooperative behavior.

7. Praise good behavior more often than disciplining bad behavior.

Using positive reinforcement, such as praise, rewards, and privileges, can encourage desired behaviors. When your child exhibits positive behavior, acknowledge and reinforce it to encourage repetition.

For example, saying “Great job on finishing your chores! You can have some extra playtime” reinforces the completion of chores.

Let your kids know they’ve done something good, and those praises will mean so much more in the moment they are learning from something they shouldn’t have done.

6. Set expectations and boundaries.

Setting clear expectations and rules with your child can help establish boundaries and promote appropriate behavior. Clearly communicate your expectations and consequences for both positive and negative behavior. Consistency is key in reinforcing these expectations.

5. Listen more than you speak.

Active listening involves genuinely listening to your child’s concerns and feelings without judgment. This helps build trust and strengthens your relationship with your child. When your child feels heard and understood, they are more likely to cooperate and communicate openly.

4. Be the person you want your child to become.

Children learn by observing their parents, so modeling desired behavior is crucial. Be a positive role model by demonstrating the behaviors and values you want to instill in your child.

For example, if you want them to be respectful, show respect towards them and others. Walk the walk, and talk the talk.

3. Be clear about the consequences of actions.

Helping your child understand the consequences of their actions can promote responsible decision-making. For example, if they don’t complete their homework, they may not have enough time for their favorite activity. This helps them connect their behavior with the outcomes, leading to more responsible choices.

2. “I” before “You” when teaching a lesson

When addressing challenging behavior, using “I” statements can be more effective than “you” statements. For example, saying “I feel frustrated when you don’t complete your homework on time” instead of “You never do your homework on time” can be less confrontational and more conducive to open communication. Take ownership over your needs, and help your child understand the expectations and their role in abiding them.

1. Don’t say, “Because I Said So.”

Using the phrase “because I said so” when responding to a child’s questions or requests can be counterproductive in several ways.

First, it fails to provide a valid explanation, leaving the child in the dark about the reasoning behind the decision. This lack of understanding can lead to frustration and resentment in the child, as they may feel that their concerns or curiosity are dismissed.

Secondly, using this phrase can hinder the development of critical thinking skills in children. Instead of encouraging them to understand the reasoning behind rules or boundaries, it promotes blind obedience without question. This can limit their ability to think independently and make informed decisions in the future.

On the other hand, taking the time to explain the “why” behind a decision can have numerous benefits. It helps children understand the logic, rationale, and consequences of certain actions or restrictions, fostering their cognitive development and comprehension of cause-and-effect relationships.

It also promotes healthy communication and trust between the parent and child, as the child feels valued and respected when their questions are addressed with meaningful explanations. Additionally, providing explanations can help children internalize values and principles, leading to more intrinsic motivation to follow rules rather than simply complying out of fear or coercion.

In summary, avoiding the use of “because I said so” and taking the time to explain the reasoning behind rules and decisions to children can have long-term positive effects on their cognitive, emotional, and social development. It promotes critical thinking, communication, and trust, while fostering a deeper understanding of values and principles.

It’s an investment in their growth and empowerment as individuals, helping them become responsible and thoughtful decision-makers in the future.

About the Author: Ammie-Marie Littke

Minimalist. Adventure seeker. Prefer experiences over things. Scientifically curious. Technological enthusiast. Independent voter. Songwriter. Avid music fan (80's music trivia whiz). Active concert goer. Michigan Wolverines fan. Beach snob. Borderline fashionista, but also in love with flare jeans.

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