Change “go” to “come”


How often does the word “go” precede your instructions for your child? These instructions sound like this:

  • Go wash your hands for dinner
  • Go upstairs and clean your room
  • Go brush your teeth
  • Go put your shoes on

How well does your child obey when you tell your child to “go” do something? Even if you get eye contact and “yes, mommy,” the child might not be so willing to comply, especially if he has better ideas in mind.

Here’s a simple idea. The next time you hear yourself say “go” do X, try saying “come.” It works like this: instead of telling your child to go put his shoes on, try saying, “Come with me to the shoe basket so you can put your shoes on.” Hold out your hand to give him an indication that he is to hold it. It almost immediately changes the tone from one of confrontation to one of cooperation.

Be sure to understand that this does not mean you do the activity for him. You are not putting his shoes on for him. You are simply bringing him over to his shoes so he can put them on.

Other variations of “come” instructions might include:

  • Come with me to the table so you can sit down for dinner
  • Come with me to the bathroom so you can wash your hands
  • Come with me to your room so we can see what toys and books need to be picked up
  • Come to the bathroom so we can brush your teeth

The other benefit of this type of instruction is that it allows you to take your child by the hand and lead him to where you want him to be. It allows you to guide your child without giving an instruction, worrying about first-time obedience, or following through with a consequence. Because of this, it’s especially useful when you’re in a time crunch (no time for timeouts) and for tasks that your child typically resists.

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