Are you a parent that struggles getting your kids to listen? Would you believe me if I told you that effective listening and co-operation can happen without resorting to scary threats, manipulative bribes, or harsh punishments?
In “How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk,” authors Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish draw up a list of key elements of parenting that often go overlooked.
Acknowledging the feelings your child has is extremely important. Often times, we find ourselves dismissing, overlooking, or undermining their feelings by saying phrases like, “It’ll be OK,” “You’re just not thinking clearly right now,” or “You’re such a crybaby.” While some of these phrases are meant to be helpful, they are in reality, a total disregard for your child’s feelings.
Phrases like, “I can see your upset about something” or “You are really bothered by something that happened at school today” can do wonders for your child in distress. When your child feels understood, he or she will begin to show signs of calming down.
When I was chatting with my niece the other day who just turned three years old a few weeks back, I was determined to try this technique on her to see what would happen. At one point during the conversation she was learning to potty train and when she had to go number two, she found it increasingly difficult. She kept wailing, “It hurts! It hurts!”
Eager to apply what I had just learned from reading the book a few days prior, I exclaimed, “It really hurts!” To which she replied, “It does hurt!” Then she seemed fine and stopped wailing for a while. Every few minutes she would proclaim once again that it hurt. I responded the same way each time to which she would answer the same as she had the first time. Then, I finally added, “It must get frustrating after a while” and she said, “Yeah.”
I imagined these words comforted her even though I felt like I hadn’t done anything to take away the physical pain she was experiencing. After all, I wasn’t even sitting in the room. The fact that she calmed herself down after each time instead of settling into an endless outburst tells me that she found reassurance in my words.
Be Respectful And Give Information
If milk has been left out on the table after the kids have finished eating breakfast, refrain from seeking out the offender. If I had to guess, I’d imagine that most parents would probably respond to the sticky situation at hand by either accusing one of the children they suspect to be the offender or trying to find out who was responsible for leaving the milk out.
According to the book’s superb methods of parenting, an appropriate response would have been announcing to everyone that the milk had been left out and what natural consequence follows when the milk is left out. For example, milk spoils when it’s left out of the fridge. This keeps the focus on the problem at hand without singling anyone out and it makes the child more likely to making amends presently and in the future rather than hiding away in fear of what will happen to him if he reveals himself.
An effective way of communicating with your child includes writing and leaving notes for him. Notes especially serve their purpose when they are used as a reminder. If your child keep forgetting to do a chore, remind him by placing a note at the location.
For example, if you want him to clean the bathtub, leave a funny note saying, “It’s my turn for a good scrub. Bathtubs get dirty too!” Tape the note to the top of the bathtub and wait to see what happens next. This comes across much better than constantly sending your child verbal reminders because those tend to turn into nagging very quickly.
If there’s anything I’ve learned from this book, it’s that filling the role of a mother or a father requires a whole lot of patience and understanding. Anyone can be a parent, but it takes hard work to be a good parent.