Health 62d6e18f42538e330264276e1f27087b
Kids Listen Better When You Appeal to Their Sense of Morality

Even if you don?€?t spend much time around kids now, you?€?ve been a kid yourself at some point ?€‘± which means you probably know that ?€?because I said so?€? is one of those phrases where nobody really wins. If you?€?re the kid on the receiving end, it?€?s somewhere between annoying and maddening, depending on what you?€?re being told to do. And for the adult doing the saying so, it?€?s only a temporary fix at best.

As Michelle Woo recently noted in Lifehacker, following the rule simply for the sake of following the rule doesn?€?t offer much appeal. Without context, you may get compliance, but you won?€?t be doing much to contribute to the kid?€?s broader understanding of what is and isn?€?t okay behavior. It?€?s like that old saying about giving a man a fish versus teaching him to fish: Tell a kid to do what you say, full stop, and they might listen in that instance; explain the reasoning behind your request, and they?€?ll be able to fit it into their broader sense of right and wrong, storing the information away to apply to another situation later on.

And that?€?s especially true, Woo argued, if your reasoning brings other people into the equation, a piece of advice she picked up while reading Wharton management professor Adam Grant?€?s 2016 book Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World. ?€?Highlight consequences for others directs attention to the distress of the person who may be harmed by an individual?€?s behavior, fueling empathy for her,?€? Grant wrote. ?€?It also helps children understand the role that their own actions played in causing the harm, resulting in guilt.?€?

It also helps stop kids from shrugging off the potential ramifications of whatever bad thing they?€?re trying to do. ?€?When people are told that certain behaviors come with personal consequences,?€? Woo wrote, ???€?they rationalize. For kids, that might look something like this?€?:

Parent: ?€?Stop climbing up the slide. You?€?ll get kicked in the face when a kid comes down.?€?

What the child is thinking: ?€?Well, I?€?ve done this 27 times before and emerged unscathed, so yeah, I feel pretty confident about my current course of action.?€?

But when consequences for others are included (?€?Stop climbing up the slide. You not letting a friend slide down, and she?€?s sad?€?), the magical empathy/guilt combo kicks in.

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