For Happiest Parenting—Use the Enforceable Statement

What’s more aggravating and frustrating than giving kids or teens a direct order, and then they ignore it? Try this brilliant parenting tip from the psychologists at loveandlogic.com: use the enforceable statement.

What is an “enforceable statement”?

Say the effective sentences below out loud, with kindness and empathy, and just feel how peaceful, calm, and beautifully, appropriately self-controlled you begin to feel.

(Make your friends laugh when you tell them what happened when you did this!)

These enforceable statement strategies come to us from the parenting experts at loveandlogic.com:

Ineffective Technique:  Hurry up and eat! We don’t have all day!
Enforceable Statement: Breakfast will be served for the next 15 minutes. I’m setting a timer now. Feel free to get all the food you need to hold you ’til lunch!

Ineffective Technique:  Clean your room so we can go shopping!
Enforceable Statement: I’ll be glad to take you shopping after your room is clean.

Ineffective Technique: I beg you, please brush your teeth. Your teeth are going to rot out of your head.
Enforceable Statement: I give treats to kids who protect their teeth by brushing.

Ineffective Technique: Shut up back there! I can’t stand this noise when I’m driving!
Enforceable Statement: I charge $2.00 per minute to listen to bickering in the backseat. 

Ineffective Technique: Don’t you yell at me!
Enforceable Statement: (Modeling a kind, calm, reasonable voice) I love you too much to argue. I’ll be glad to discuss this with you when your voice sounds like mine.

Ineffective Technique: You didn’t do your chores again! What’s the matter with you?
Enforceable Statement: I’ll be glad to <do whatever the child most wants done> when all your chores are done in a quality manner.

Ineffective Technique: Hurry up and get dressed! We’ve gotta go in 10 minutes! 
Enforceable Statement: The car’s leaving in 10 minutes. Will you be going with your clothes on your body, or in a plastic grocery bag? 

Ineffective Technique: Sit still, for Pete’s sake, I can’t stand it when you’re squirming around during reading time.
Enforceable Statement: I read to kids who are sitting still. How about if you practice that and we can try again in about 30 minutes?

Ineffective Technique:  If you beg me for a cell phone one more time I am going to go insane!
Enforceable Statement: A cell phone sounds fun! You can get one as soon as you can afford to pay for it.

Ineffective Technique: Why do I always have to nag you to do your homework!
Enforceable Statement:  Here’s your backpack and a nice clean table. Let’s set a timer for 45 minutes, and you can sit right here and either do your homework or think about it.

Ineffective Technique:  Hurry up! You’re going to miss the bus!
Enforceable Statement: The bus comes by at about 7:45 am. Will you be riding it for free or paying someone to drive you to school?

Ineffective Technique:  You’re not going out without your coat.
Enforceable Statement: Feel free to go as soon as you’re got your coat. Totally your choice whether you wear it or carry it.  

These additional resources will help you become a master at the enforceable statement:

Download the loveandlogic.com resource Turn Your Words into Gold table (PDF), which contains more examples like these. Also—the loveandlogic.com audio Keeping Cool When Parenting Heats Up provides even more insight on effective communication techniques with kids and teens.

If you’re a teacher, you’ll love the table of enforceable statements specifically designed for teachers.

Loveandlogic.com provides this resource for you for free here.

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Who is Jeannie Burlowski?

Jeannie is a full-time academic strategist, podcast host, and sought-after speaker for students ages 12–26, their parents, and the professionals who serve them. Her writing, speaking, and podcasting help parents set their kids up to graduate college debt-free, ready to jump directly into careers they excel at and love. Her work has been featured in publications such as The Huffington Post, USA Today, Parents Magazine, and US News and World Report, and on CBS News.

Jeannie also helps students apply to law, medical, business, and grad school at her website GetIntoMedSchool.com. You can follow her on Twitter @JBurlowski.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Hi, I'm Jeannie Burlowski

I'm a full-time academic strategist, speaker, and podcast host, and I’m the author of the book LAUNCH: How to Get Your Kids Through College Debt-Free and Into Jobs They Love Afterward.

My writing, speaking, and podcasting help parents set their kids up to graduate college debt-free and move directly into careers they excel at and love.

My work has been featured in publications such as The Huffington PostUSA TodayNerdWallet, and US News and World Report, and on CBS News.

I also help students apply to law, medical, business, and grad school from my website GetIntoMedSchool.com. You can follow me on Twitter @JBurlowski.

My team and I are leading a debt-free college revolution. We hope you’ll join us.

Hi, I'm Jeannie Burlowski.

I'm a full-time academic strategist, speaker, and podcast host, and I’m the author of the book LAUNCH: How to Get Your Kids Through College Debt-Free and Into Jobs They Love Afterward.

My writing, speaking, and podcasting help parents set their kids up to graduate college debt-free and move directly into careers they excel at and love.

My work has been featured in publications such as The Huffington PostUSA TodayNerdWallet, and US News and World Report, and on CBS News.

I also help students apply to law, medical, business, and grad school from my website GetIntoMedSchool.com. You can follow me on Twitter @JBurlowski.

My team and I are leading a debt-free college revolution. We hope you’ll join us.

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