Watch Your Tone
Of course, that doesn't mean you shouldn't be nice. "Research has shown that children are much more likely to cooperate when parents use a pleasant tone of voice," says Alan E. Kazdin, PhD, professor of psychology and child psychiatry at Yale University. "Please" isn't called the magic word for nothing. Using it can get your foot-dragging toddler to put on her pj's without a fuss. "When you're giving your child instructions, it's also crucial to be very clear about what you want her to do -- she should be able to picture the behavior in her mind," says Dr. Kazdin. For instance, it's much more effective to say, "Please go into the den and clean up all the crayons on the table," rather than, "Didn't I ask you to clean up your crayons?" (Rhetorical questions will get you absolutely nowhere.)
The final word: thanks. "It's particularly important to acknowledge your child's efforts by saying 'thank you,'" says Dr. Acredolo. "We're all more likely to cooperate in the future when we feel appreciated."