5 Psychological Tricks To Get Your Kids To Do As You Ask

It's tough getting your kid to do something they don’t want to do. But there are psychological methods you can use to persuade them.


As a parent, there are few things more frustrating than trying to get your kid to do something they don’t want to do.

Whether it’s trying to coerce them to brush their teeth before bed or clean their room for the first time in weeks, getting them to do even the simplest of tasks can be a huge hassle.

And while it’s easy to raise your voice and start making aggressive demands in these situations, there are psychological tricks to get your kids to do as you ask.

The best part? These methods won’t raise your stress level near as much as aggression.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at these psychological tricks and show you how you can use them on your child.

1The “Yes, But…” Trick

If you haven’t noticed, kids aren’t a big fan of the word “no.” And while they probably hear it more than any other singular word, the result is usually a big frown or an epic temper tantrum.

Fortunately, you can prevent many of these meltdowns by changing your “no” to a “yes, but…”.

For example, let’s say your son asks if he can play video games for an hour before bedtime and they have a dirty room that hasn’t been cleaned up in 2 weeks.

Instead of saying, “no, you still haven’t cleaned up your room…”, you could say, “yes, but only after you clean up your room.”

While it’s a subtle change, it’s much more likely that you’ll get what you want (your son to clean their room) and he’ll get what he wants (to play video games for an hour before bedtime). And who doesn’t like a win-win scenario?

2The “Give Them the Option to Say No” Trick

Of all the psychological tricks on this list, this one is the most proven.

It essentially works like this. Instead of making a demand like “brush your teeth right now” or “clean your room right this second”, give them the option to say no by including the phrase, “but you are free to…”

For example, you could say, “I would like you to put your dishes in the dishwasher, but you are free to leave them on the counter.”

Giving them the option to say no makes them feel like they have the freedom to choose as they wish.

And, while it may seem counter-intuitive, it’s proven to work about 2x better than making a demand.

3The “Two Choices” Trick

This trick works great when you’re trying to convince your kids to get chores done or study for school.

It works like this. Instead of telling your child that they need to do something, offer them two choices that would both accomplish something for you.

For example, you could say, “Would you rather do the dishes or clean the living room?” or “Would you rather study for your History test or your English test?”

By allowing them to make a decision, they’ll feel as if they’re in the driver’s seat and will be much more likely to complete the task that they choose.

4The “Tell a Story” Trick

If you’re dealing with a toddler, this is one of the most useful tricks at your disposal. It’s also one that can be fun for both you and your kid.

It works like this. When your child is refusing to do something, such as brush their teeth or get dressed, create a make-believe story that distracts them from what you need them to do.

For example, let’s say you’re getting ready to head out the door and your toddler is refusing to put their shoes on.

Instead of yelling at them or forcefully putting their shoes on for them, guide them through a story that takes their mind away from the task at hand.

While this method will take a bit of creativity and patience, it’s a much less stressful solution to those many situations when your toddler makes you want to rip your hair out in frustration.

5The “Create a Game” Trick

This is a trick we use in our home to create fun competition among our children while getting our way in the process.

It works like this. Let’s say you want your kid to clean their room. You could say, “Alright, let’s see how fast you can clean your room,” and then literally time them.

Or, if they have siblings, you could have them compete against each other.

In our home, we have a family house cleaning every Sunday. When it’s time to clean their rooms, we start a timer and see how fast they can clean up their room.

To encourage them to get better week after week, we even keep track of their times on a whiteboard in the hallway.

The best part about this tactic is that, since they know the competition happens every Sunday, they tend to keep their rooms clean throughout the week since they know that will automatically improve their time.

6Playing to Your Child’s Desire for Freedom

As you can tell, most of the psychological tricks on this list play to your child’s desire for freedom.

Kids don’t want to be told what to do. And they’re quick to rebel when demands are made.

With this set of tricks, however, you now have an arsenal of strategies to get your kids to do what you want.

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