If your children are disobedient then a top hypnotherapist has a way out for you. The hypnotherapist believes that the linguistic strategies she deploys to influence adults can be adapted to create obedient little angels.

By harnessing the power of language, Harley Street hypnotherapist, Alicia Eaton says parents can influence their children to do almost anything – no shouting, bribing and threatening necessary.

In her book, Words That Work: How To Get Kids To Do Almost Anything, the hypnotherapist shows how changing the words we use, can bring about drastic changes in our children’s behavior.
Simple steps like dropping the word ‘don’t’, saying ‘thank you’ before rather than after a request and structuring sentences to create the illusion of choice can all have profound affects when they fall on little ears.
Eaton’s methods are based on NLP’s ‘Language of Persuasion and Influence’ technique.
Here are Eaton’s top ten rules for getting children to listen – first time and without a fuss.

Always say what you DO want your child to do, and not what you DON’T

Eaton says phrases like, ‘Don’t leave your room in a mess’, ‘Do you have to leave your shoes lying around?’ or, ‘How many times have I told you not to push your sister around?’ are counter-productive.

Phrases like ‘Let’s leave the room tidy and put all the Lego away'; ‘shoes belong in the cupboard under the stairs’ or ‘let’s get our skates on and see if we can be early for school today!’ are more likely to get results, she says.


Linguistic strategies used to put adults ‘under the spell’ can be adapted to influence children in every day life

Create the illusion of choice

If saying, ‘Hurry up and get dressed for school’ doesn’t spur your child on, then Eaton advocates: ‘Nudge your child in the right direction by offering the illusion of choice.’
Pose questions such as, ‘Which T-shirt will you be wearing this morning, the blue one or the red?’ or, ‘Which will you put on first, the trousers or the T-shirt?’
If there is reluctance to doing homework, Eaton advocates giving the child a choice of when to do the work, with a question such as, ‘Do you want to work on your school project today or tomorrow?’.

Talk as if it’s a given that your child will do what you ask

The word “when” is often referred to as the most hypnotic word in the English language. It gently implies that something will be done in the initial instance,’ says Eaton.

Eaton suggests phrases like: ‘When you’ve tidied your room, we’ll have some lunch’, ‘When you’ve finished your maths homework, we’ll be able to go out to the park’ or ‘When you’ve put your uniform on, we can go downstairs for breakfast’.

‘Car sales people often use this pattern,’ says Eaton. ‘They’ll say, “When we’ve been out for a test drive, we’ll come back and you can choose a colour scheme for the interior.”


Eaton recommends giving kids the the subtle message that the task ahead is a fait accompli by clever use of the ‘when’ word. At homework time try: ‘When you’ve finished your essay, you’ll notice how easy it is to learn those spellings’

Create a linguistic connection between you and your child

As per Eaton, creating a link with your child in the language you use can be a powerful tool in increasing their inclination to listen.

Eaton recommends putting yourself in your child’s place and vice versa with phrases such as ‘I, like you, realise you have lots of choices in front of you’ or ‘You, like me, realise how much easier it is to do homework with a tidy desk’.

Say ‘thank you’ before, rather than after

We’re used to thanking people after they’ve done something for us, but what about thanking before it’s been done?’ asks Eaton.
‘This often works well because children naturally want to please people, especially their parents.’

Eaton recommends thanking children before they have done the desired task – like making a bed. ‘Once they’ve been thanked, they feel obligated to perform the task,’ she says

Always give your reasoning

Often we expect children to jump to it without really understanding the reason behind what we are asking of them.
‘By explaining why we’re asking for something, our request is more likely to be granted,’ says Eaton, who recommends simply adding a ‘because’ to every request.

Front-load your sentences

‘Front-loading your sentences with phrases such as ‘think about it’ and ‘listen’ sends a powerful suggestion to your child to do just that,’ says Eaton.

Try creating motivation by saying: ‘Think about it. How good will it feel once you’ve finished your homework?’

Put a positive spin on moaning

Some children have the habit of complaining, but Eaton suggests: ‘You can help your child get in the habit of looking for solutions by reflecting or bouncing the statement back to them with a positive spin.’

If, for example, your child complains ‘I’m too hot!’, Eaton suggests bouncing back with something positive. She suggests: ‘Ah, you’d like to feel cooler. What would make you feel better – opening a window or removing your jacket?’

As per Eaton, creating a link with your child in the language you use can be a powerful tool in increasing their inclination to listen

Use leading questions

‘Using leading questions is a useful language pattern that can help to take your child from a problem to a desired solution,’ explains Eaton.

Eaton recommends the following sentences as examples of how to put a positive spin on a problem and at the same time help your children feel part of the solution.

‘So, you’ve been feeling worried about your exams – to make yourself aware that you need to do something more about them?’

‘So, you’re talking to me about this now – in order to start making some changes?’

Help your child stop using the ‘can’t’ word

Eaton thinks the word ‘can’t’ is used many times in conversations and shuts out the possibility of achievement.

‘To get your child out of this habit, highlight that things can and do change,’ says Eaton.
‘Your child is changing all the time, which means not being able to do something is merely transient,’ she adds.
When your child says, ‘I can’t do maths!’ Eaton suggests turning it around into, ‘Ah, you just haven’t yet found a way to do that particular exercise yet’.