Posted by: coachingparents | April 29, 2010

How to Get Your Kid to Do What’s Right by Dr. Laura Markham

“Dr. Laura — You talk about setting limits and it sounds so easy.  But how do I actually get my kid to do what’s right?” — Amber

How do we get kids to “do right”?  We can:

1. Force them physically.
This only works when they’re a lot smaller.  Kids raised this way usually rebel against “doing right” as they get older.

2. Manipulate them emotionally. Again, this doesn’t raise kids who make wise choices and only works until they figure it out.

3. Set up the environment to make it more likely that they’ll feel good enough to “do right.” This is essential when kids are small.  We baby-proof, make sure they get enough sleep, don’t drag them on errands when they’re hungry.  But we quickly lose the ability to control their environment.  Again, our goal is to raise a kid who will choose to “do right” regardless of environmental pressures.
4. Raise a kid who WANTS to do right. Bingo! But how’s that done, exactly?

  • Love them unconditionally (meaning accept all of who they are, including those messy “negative” emotions) so their cups are full — which makes them more likely to “do right.”
  • Foster emotional intelligence so they aren’t driven by emotional turmoil to make stupid choices — and can right themselves when they trip up, as we all do.
  • Set up routines that gradually create good habits, like sitting with them to do their homework when they’re small.
  • Help them learn what’s right — and WANT to do it — by setting empathic limits. The limits teach them what’s right. The empathy makes the limits palatable so they eventually “own” them.

So while setting limits IS about getting our kids to do what’s right today, the way we set those limits will determine whether they continue to “do right” as teenagers, and for the rest of their lives.  What’s more, the ability to make those wise choices will determine their future success and happiness.

That’s how we get kids to do what’s right.  But I haven’t really answered Amber’s question, which is how to set limits so kids will choose to “do what’s right” — today, and always.  That’s what next weeks’ daily emails will address. As always, if you have specific questions, please write to me. Have a wonderful weekend, and enjoy your child.

And may your day be filled with miracles, large and small.
Dr. Laura Markham

This is your daily coaching reminder on how you can be a more inspired parent — and a happier person — from Dr. Laura Markham of  For instant safe unsubscribe, please click here.

Please feel free to share this email with friends and family who you think will enjoy it. Send to a Friend. (We won’t keep their email or send them anything unless they subscribe, and you’ll get a thank you gift from us — a copy ofThe Daily Inspirations Ebook. Keep on your bedside table or tear out your fave inspirations to post around the house.)

If you have been forwarded this email and want to subscribe, please click here.This “Daily Inspiration” is sent four days a week.  Please note that on Mondays you’ll get my free weekly newsletter, Secrets of Happy Parents, which is chock-full of parenting tips and does not duplicate the more intensive work in this Daily Inspiration.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: