we have instituted a new habit around here just this past week (again another practical solution from my dear m.i.l. rebecca). its called "the rule is ..."
with four children under 6 1/2 years we have lots of little voices and opinions when mama tells the kids to do something (b/c you never ask them "do you want to do ___?" they will always say "no," which will become a point of contention.)
the first step: i say "the rule is _______." for example when my oldest, kyrie, says definantly with her arms crossed, "i am not going to do that." i say (making sure she is looking me in the eyes) "the rule is mama is in charge, not kyrie."
the second part of this habit is having the kids repeat the rule: "the rule is mama is in charge, not kyrie." the three oldest are responding well to this habit. but sometimes i have to take more time to get their attention. getting down to their level, (gently but firmly) holding their chins and getting their eye contact.
i have noticed a remarkable positive response from the kids. ransom smiles cheerfully and repeats me. sometimes it takes a few tries. but he feels a part of the process, like he has a responsibility to respond and then obey. of course all this works if i have allowed plenty of time to get from points A to B.
sometimes mama needs to repeat the rule: "the rule is prior proper planning prevents p-ss poor performance." (a little diddy my hubs uses in the navy.)