Parents with bright kids often tell me they end up saying "No" to almost everything because they don't know how it will turn out. Try this as an experiment: from No to Yes.
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Building a culture of cooperation means that you also have to be cooperative. Spend a day saying "Yes" to your bright kid. Whatever he suggests, you agree to! It's simple but scary. He says, "I want to go to a party," you say, "Great idea, I'll get my coat." He says, "I don't want to go to school," you say, "Fantastic, what will we do together?" He says, "I want to fly to Africa," you say, "Great idea, let's work out a way to do that." He says, "I want frog legs and ice cream for dinner," you say, "Excellent, I'll get the ice cream, you find the frogs."
Get the idea? You'll agree to do almost anything with them. Probably by the end of the day, they will be so sick of you being so damn agreeable, they'll either think you're on drugs or start seriously wondering whether you are insane. It takes that sort of determination to shift a family from grumpy coercion to something resembling willing compliance.
Secondly, show them the behaviors you want to see more of. Kids do what they see other people do. Bright kids are especially sensitive to the environment around them. If you want them to be calm and settled, you will need to become calm and settled yourself. To repeat something from the first post, two crocodile brains equals a lot of snapping!
This means you are no longer playing by their rules. This can confuse many bright kids. They've had years of battle hardening experience. They know what to do when you get angry or defensive. If they start haranguing, arguing, disputing, debating, or insulting you, say, "I'll give you two minutes to see if you can get yourself together. If you can't speak about this calmly, I'll leave and you can come back to me when you are calmer." If they are still fuming, leave. There is nothing to be gained by gritting your teeth and putting up with their bad behavior - and much to be lost.
Some families find it worthwhile having a code word or a physical gesture that indicates, "Let's take a break from this discussion for ten minutes."
Building a culture of cooperation with the different types of bright kids
You need to know your young person's style so that you can start building a positive family culture.
As Manipulators are often keen to impress adults, superficial cooperation is easy to attain. Genuine cooperation may take a little longer. Praise them for their helpfulness but stay close. For six weeks we want them to have no chance to engage in sneaky or underhand behaviors.
Negotiators can be difficult to encourage towards cooperation. Their "What's in it for me?" attitude can mislead you into trying to force them to do things. Resist this. For six weeks you are going to show them it is preferable to be a collaborator than a Negotiator. Pick one or, at most, two areas and build cooperation in those areas. Clearly make requests, raise your expectations, and don't waver.
Ah, the unfairness of it all! Debaters are so used to tallying who does what and when and who got the biggest share that true cooperation is a foreign language to them. This will take a concerted effort on your part by being extremely helpful to them for no good reason. Once you have shown them how to cooperate for some time, you can start making small (and tentative) requests,
Cooperation is an anathema to Competitors. While you won't shift their competitive spirit, you can show them there is a more collaborative way to win. Involving them in community service projects where they receive recognition for good deeds is one way. In the home, give them some responsibility that involves helping others.
Dare Devils aren't just reckless, they are also often kind hearted. Requests that have a sense of urgency often involve them best. This is especially the case if there is a sense of challenge. For example, "I'm just about to serve dinner. Would you mind quickly feeding the goldfish?"
With cooperation comes social interaction - something some Passive Resisters want to avoid. Requesting that they care for younger children or animals is a good place to start. You'll have to be clear that you won't accept the stock response, "I'll do it later." Persist with requests and praise their efforts. Bringing these kids out of their shell sets them up for life. To find out more, you can check out Working Together Activities For Children.