In his new book, Lifescripts for Family and Friends, minister and psychotherapist Erik Kolbell literally maps out how you can approach uncomfortable conversations with those closest to you. Child asked Kolbell to write a sample dialogue for telling a 4- or 5-year-old to clean up her room. While we've simplified the Lifescripts format (the book offers strategies about tone and timing, as well as responses to a wide range of reactions), these options can make a potentially frustrating exchange much easier.
YOUR OPENING STATEMENT: Now that you're getting older and we can count on you to do more around the house, it's time you started to help keep your room clean.
Reaction: Defiance Your Child Says: "I don't want to! That's your job!"You Say: "It was our job when you were a baby, just like it was our job to change your diaper. But this is part of growing up."
Reaction: Appeal to justice Your Child Says: "Suzie's mom doesn't make her clean her room!" You Say: "These are the rules in our house. You're being told to do it because we're all responsible for doing family jobs."
Reaction: Bargaining Your Child Says: "If I clean my room, can I have a new toy?" You Say: "You only get new toys as gifts and on special occasions. This is your job now."
Copyright © 2002. Reprinted with permission from the April 2002 issue of Child magazine.