The One Surefire Way to Get Your Kids to Cooperate (HINT: it’s Not a Chart)

The one surefire way to get your kids to cooperate is to lead with acceptance.

Make acceptance of who your children are the STARTING point in your parenting, not something you give conditionally when they meet your expectations. Why is this so important? Because each of us has a fundamental need to be understood and accepted exactly as we are. It’s a basic human need, and a very powerful one. If our parents don’t fill this need, we will seek approval and acceptance wherever we can find it. Gangs, predators, fringe elements. We all need to feel that we belong!

OK, all well and good, but here’s the thing about acceptance, and lack of acceptance that I want to make sure parents understand. When you feel accepted as you are it creates a strong bond of connection. When you feel warmly connected to someone, YOU WANT TO PLEASE THEM. (Sorry for the all caps shouting, it’s my inborn intensity.) When you want to please someone, you cooperate with them.

Kids who learn that they are A-OK, precious, and unique exactly as they are feel deeply connected and want to please their parents (I’m not talking about normal developmental stages such as the twos and puberty where becoming more independent is necessary and good). Think about your own experience. Remember back to the first person who really GOT you, who thought you were special, saw the good in you and reflected it back to you. How did you feel about this person? Most likely, you would have done anything for them!

I remember my third and fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Bwy. I felt so deeply understood by her. This example might sound trivial, but it was memorable for me. I won a homonym contest and the prize was a chain of 28 sour apple bubble gum balls. My classmates wanted me to share with them. They kept pestering me, so I went to Mrs. Bwy in tears, telling her I didn’t want to share. She reassured me that it was just fine…the prize was for my hard work and there was no reason I needed to share it. At home, I felt like a greedy person. Not with Mrs. Bwy. She just GOT me. I adored her and was eager to please her.

Create deep connection in your family with acceptance. Your child will want to please you.

For more information about inborn traits, see this video, and make sure you’ve received my free report, The Key to Understanding Your Child: The Nine Traits of the CoreSelf, by signing up in the right column of this page.


  • Nelda Choate says:

    This most interesting post sent me back to the days with my 2 young, very different daughters. As a single mom, it was a struggle not to expect the same from each. But it was obvious they needed different “connecting”.

    Gave me a smile, plus insight. Thanks for taking the time to share 🙂

  • Kim Scott says:

    Great article. I have a child who does not cooperate very often, although he is a sweet and loving little boy. He is borderline autistic and sometimes it really shows. I get so frustrated with him that it is possible that he isn’t seeing himself as accepted 100%. I will work on that much harder. Thank you for the information. 🙂

  • Loved this! I think when we look back the people who inspired us the most and who constantly encouraged us were those who accepted us as we were, not who they wanted us to become! Those are the people who share the best of my memories of childhood.

  • Renae says:

    Great article on gaining and giving acceptance to our kids. I have a 20 year old who looks for affirmations that as a mother of a 1 year old she is accepted and doing the right things. 🙂

  • Really great advice, Nancy Rose! I do remember how powerful it was to know and connect with people who “got” me. And I do want to offer that to my son, so I will be keeping this post in mind, and checking out your book.

  • Great advice. Even though my kids are adults and young adults this information still applies. Blessings.

  • Nancy,
    We all need to remember to start with acceptance, that it isn’t something that has to be learned. Like you mentioned, the bond is made through connection. Thanks so much for the reminder!

  • Fantastic post, and such important information, thank you for sharing.

  • Great post, Nancy. This not only applies to parents, but grandparents, too. Having raised 3 daughters, my one grandson seems like an alien from outer space to me–loud, extremely active and physical. When I accept him for all that he is and redirect his physical activity towards more ‘acceptable’ levels for my comfort–we get along great. When I have to be ‘right’ which makes him ‘wrong’, we butt heads and both end up unhappy. Thank you for an important point about accepting unconditionally and ‘getting’ our children and grandchildren. They are all individuals, just as we adults are.

  • Nancy Rose says:

    Nancy Rose, author of Raise the Child You’ve Got, Not the One You Want
    Helping parents understand and accept who their children are
    Nancy Rose’s Website and Blog

  • Joanne says:

    Our children do want to please us. They want to feel loved, nurtured, accepted, and understood. I love the way that you write and the message that you share.

  • Sarah Arrow says:

    I loved reading this Nancy, I work hard to create connections with my daughters, and I’ll take your advice on board and throw out the chart!

  • As a mom of two young boys who are completely and totally different – I’ve had to really step in that place of being ok with myself so that I don’t have to change them to fit in to some preconceived mold. This is great insight for parents – to give the child that space to be fully who they are and be loved exactly as such! What a gift. I hope lots more read this and take it home to their children! Thanks for the article!

  • Dorothy Smith says:

    dear nancy,
    i love your example of the sour apple gum balls (i noticed you still remember there were exactly 28).

    if i were your teacher i think my first reaction would have been “hey, i’ve gotta teach this kid something about sharing! i’m right, and i am in a position of authority! i need to do my job!”

    but how beautiful and creative to approach it including the child’s perspective, and to give reinforcement rather than punishment with that understanding. that is so rare for most of us.

    thank you for your enlightening memory.

    • Nancy Rose says:

      Dorothy, I really appreciate you taking the time to comment, especially about my example. It was so powerful for me but I wasn’t sure if it came across that way in the post. I’m grateful to you <3

    • Amelie says:

      As much I make every effort to really let my daughter be herself, I have to say I might taken the opportunity for a lesson about sharing…

      That fine line is so difficult to balance sometimes! But your example is so true at the same time. Thanks for sharing!

      I was really proud of my daughter a few weeks ago. She was at a birthday party and the little girl had 3 rings on her cake, so she kept 1 and gave the 2 to other kids. And my daughter was courageous enough to say that she shouldn’t share if she couldn’t share with everyone. That it would hurt the feelings of kids who didn’t get one.

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