Four Pluses and a Wish – Parenting Strategy Tip

Every parent wants their child to be confident, cooperative and lead an overall happy life. A key way to develop these outcomes is through the way that parents communicate with their children. One way that parents can achieve and improve their child’s cooperation is through the four pluses and a wish strategy. This strategy is a great way to increase cooperation in children as it allows the child to feel respected, making them much more willing to comply with parental wishes. Here are the steps:

Plus 1- Smile

  • Having a genuine happy facial expression is extremely important when approaching the child. This reassures the child that everything is okay,

Plus 2-  Maintain relaxed body language

  • By having relaxed body language while talking to the child it minimizes the distant between the parent and child and shows that you are open to communication and are accepting of the child.

Plus 3 – Say the child’s name

  • When addressing the child or requesting something from them, it is important to use the appropriate tone when saying the child’s name. This makes things more personal, and using an appropriate tone allows the child to feel respected and not be worried about what is to follow.

Plus 4 – Complement the child

  • Before making the request, the parent should compliment the child in regard to something the child had done as to make them feel appreciated, and respected.

The Wish – Make the request

  • After completing the four pluses, the parent can then make their request.

The following is an example of how this can be executed in the daily routine.

Scenario: Thomas a parent wants his child Sarah to clean up her toys.

Plus 1: Thomas approaches Sarah with a friendly smile.

Plus 2: Thomas crouches down so that he can be face to face with Sarah

Plus 3: “Hello Sarah”

Plus 4: ” You made such beautiful artwork, I’m so proud of the work that you have done”

Wish: “I need you to start cleaning up your stuff so that you can get started on your homework now”

This is one strategy among many that clinicians at The Therapy Centre working with parents can provide. The Therapy Centre has a variety of clinicians that offer services in assessing and treating behavioural issues and their underlying causes.  We will work collaboratively with parents and teachers to coordinate services and care. We also offer psycho-educational assessments to diagnose learning disabilities and ADHD.With two offices located in Oakville and Hamilton, we are accessible from Mississauga, Milton, Halton Hills, Guelph Wellington and the greater Niagara Region.


1) Heath, Phyllis. (2009). Parent-Child Relations: Context, Research, and Application (2 ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson