It’s my opinion that children have the unconscious ability to know what is right or wrong. In his book “Children Are From Heaven: Positive Parenting Skills for Raising Cooperative, Confident, and Compassionate Children”, John Gray, Ph.D. advises that “this ability becomes awakened by cooperating with a parent or mentor’s request, and not by listening to our lectures.” As a suggestion he says, “once you begin commanding, avoid stating the rules or giving reasons to back you up.”
Don’t you find it true that once you begin to repeat a command, the time for negotiation with the child is over? If negotiation is allowed to continue, our power tends to wane. When we digress by having a discussion about why the child should do what we want, the momentum is lost. At this point, the best technique, Dr. Gray states, is repetition of the command. He also tells us the child still has the right to resist, but you are still the boss! As you persist in commanding, the child will automatically begin to yield to your point of view. When you state a command, the only reason children should cooperate with your request is because you want them to.
If you look deep inside a child, the most motivating force is the desire to please and cooperate with parents or the primary caretaker. Children are born ready to follow our guidance, we just have to give them a chance. The desire to please and cooperate is the prime directive. Even with older children who are capable of reason and abstract thought, when it comes down to a command, the reason they should cooperate is that you are the parent and you want them to.