The Joyful Yes Game

Image courtesy of luigi diamanti /

Image courtesy of luigi diamanti /

One of the best ways to build trust is to create a healthy attachment cycle where a child voices a need and it is met with what Dr. Karyn Purvis calls a Joyful Yes.

This is all well and good until you have a bunch of know-it-all teenagers or strong-willed toddlers who just DO or GET without asking.

My first instinct as a parent is to lay down a punishment when asking isn’t utilized. My trust-based trained self knows that will get me know where. Then I had an idea for a game. What if I turned asking for things into a competition?

What you need:

Place to keep score (We have white board mounted in our dining room that fit the bill.)

Motivating prize (We have a ticket system in our house so I awarded tickets.)

A chunk of time where you will all be home together with minimum commitments (We used a typical home school day at our house.)

How it works:

Have a family meeting and announce that you are trying to find more ways to say “yes” to the kids but you’ll need their help.

Explain that you will award a point for each question asked that starts with “May I…” or “Will you help me…?”

The question has to be said with respect and with good eye contact.

The child who helps you say the most “yes’s” by the end of the game period earns the prize (or you earn a prize for ever X number of points).

Things to remember:

If your kids are like mine, they will milk this for all it’s worth. It may grate on your patience and start to get REALLY annoying. That’s why I suggest playing for a finite time. On the plus side, no one wandered out for a walk, turned on a screen, or got food without asking.

I think we’ll play about once a week in attempt to lay down more and more healthy, relational neuropathways while I still get to keep a sliver of sanity.

What games do you play to get your kids to willfully obey?

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