I see that someone arrived at this site by searching for "how to get your child into the house." I don't think I've taken up that topic before. But I'm here to help.

When trying to retrieve your child, the challenge is that you are in a rather weak negotiating position. You have a strong preference to get the child into the house, and the child typically knows that. So you could try the "sticks" approach--loudly close the door, turn off the porch light, open the curtains and settle down on the couch with a DVD and a bowl of ice cream--but the success of this strategy is predicated on your ability to induce an actionable amount of distress and anxiety in the child. If this becomes a habit you will surely regret it.

Therefore, you might be better off using "carrots." That is, you could announce to the child--who is probably lurking within earshot anyway--that you are prepared to incent their return, heavily if necessary. Or you could stand on the porch shaking a jar of treats, just as you do when trying to get your dog into the house. Once retrieved, you should explain to the child that they are playing an iterative game and you are pursuing a tit-for-tat strategy: because of their defection this evening, you will defect from a desired behavior at the next opportunity, before play resumes as normal. If this is not possible, because you insist on cooperating with your child, just be aware that they will catch on to you and pretty soon you'll be on the porch waving a water gun and a gift certificate for their university tuition. But if that comes to pass, take comfort. Although you want to get your child into the house, you don't want your child to be overly pliable, and mischief is best learned at home.

08/18/2011 10:26

So generous of you to help those lost on the internet! Highlarious.


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