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5 Ways to Get Your Kids Do Things They Don’t Want to Do

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Do you know how to help your kids do things they don’t want to do? I’ve learned from my middle child. The other morning, he stomped and moaned down our driveway dreading the sting of a needle that awaited him at the lab. I finally got him to the car, but he jetted around our house and disappeared among the pines. We found him huddled behind a cluster of blooming azalea bushes down the street after frantically searching. He successfully evaded that first appointment, but we made it to the lab later in the week for the dreaded needle stick.

As moms, we have to teach our kids to do things they don’t want to do but that are necessary for their well-being, like homework, getting a shot, going to the dentist, taking medication, or completing a complicated school project. Helping our kids learn to persevere when life feels uncomfortable is one of the greatest skills we can teach them. So here are 5 tricks of the parenting trade that will help your kids do things they don’t want to do.

1. Bribe them.

Yep, that’s right. It’s counselor-recommended and doctor-approved—seriously. It may not be the best way, but it works. It doesn’t have to be with unhealthy treats, though. Think about offering a fun outing with Mom or Dad or staying up late.

2. Praise the characteristics that will help them.

Point out your kids’ strengths that will get them through whatever they’re dreading. Use this time as a chance to build them up. Talk about qualities like bravery, creativity, and perseverance. Mention times when you’ve seen them show bravery or do tough things before.

3. Invite a friend or family member to help.

We all know our kids tend to listen more attentively to other adults’ suggestions. Consider asking a grandparent, neighbor, or coach to help encourage your child.

4. Learn from characters who experience the same problem.

My son is young enough that he can still watch Daniel Tiger and learn from watching Daniel get a shot. But don’t forget about the power of books to speak to your child. My oldest daughter is a reluctant writer and this summer, I plan to teach her how to write in cursive. In an attempt to combat the pushback I’m anticipating, I picked up a book about a third-grade girl who initially refuses to write cursive.

5. Ask the professionals.

Get advice from a professional if your child doesn’t want to do what you need him or her to do. For example, my son was so scared of blood work that the doctor gave him numbing cream to help him overcome his fears. We prepared him for a couple of days by telling him how we would apply the cream and how it would help him. That (and the promise of waffles) solved our issue!

Which tip would be most effective for your kid?


What’s something you’ve done that was really hard?

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