Are you and your fifth grader having a hard time coming to an agreement? Is he indecisive? Does he drag his feet or just refuse to agree with anything you say? Then now is the time to add the “tie-down” strategy to your talks.

Tie-downs are a way to get a positive verbal response from a resistant child. They are phrases that you attach to a question to increase your chances of getting an affirmative commitment. Some examples are:

  • Aren’t they?”
  • Can’t you?”
  • Doesn’t it?”
  • Haven’t they?”
  • Isn’t that correct?”
  • Won’t you?”
  • Wasn’t it?”
  • Couldn’t you?”
  • Don’t we?”
  • Don’t you agree?”

You should use tie-downs during important discussions with your fifth grader. They help build momentum towards an agreement. Here's an example of how it might work:

So you left your books at school, didn’t you?”


That violates our agreement, doesn’t it?”


You can guess what that means, can’t you?”

Tie-downs are a gentle way of reminding your child of her obligations and commitments. You'll get less resistance and fewer arguments, don't you agree?

Chick Moorman is the author of "Parent Talk: How To Talk To Your Child In Language That Builds Self-Esteem and Encourages Responsibility" and the co-author of "The 10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose."