Monday, April 23, 2012

Talking So That Your Kids Will Listen

“Are you listening to me?”

If you're a parent, I'm sure you've said this phrase at least five or six times a day. Much of the time, it's not really their fault. For instance, a child playing outside might not have fully heard you, or perhaps they didn't fully understand the question. I can't really help you with the first one, but there are ways you can phrase your statements and requests so that your children will listen and understand you.
  • Use “I” language rather than “you” language. Statements like “You'd better not...” or “You have to...” can put children on the defensive, which can make them stop listening. Reframing things in “I” terms takes that 'defensiveness' off. “I need you to do the dishes” or “I'd appreciate it if...” sounds much better, but gets the same message across. This principle can also work in your other relationships. Saying, “I'd rather you not wear the shirt with the naked women on it to my mother's house” sounds better than, “You're wearing that disgusting shirt again!” but still tells him what you think of the shirt!
  • Cause and effect. Give your child a positive reason to follow your directive. “Get dressed so we can go out for dinner” tells her what you want her to do and why in a way that she will be more likely to remember. After all, you can't very well go out to dinner if you're still in your pajamas! Restaurants usually frown on that!
  • Give choices, but in a limited way. Saying, 'Would you rather wear the green shirt or the blue one?' or 'Do you want to do the dishes first, or the laundry?' makes it clear that 'no' is not an option.
  • Close the discussion. Let them know that your words are final. “We're done talking about this” doesn't leave room for anything else.
  • Be concise. The longer you talk, the more likely they'll tune you out. For instance, I used to mentally draw things on my dad's face when he would give us his two-hour lectures! Your kids might not go that far, but more will sink in if it's kept short. If you can, limit your request or reason to one sentence.
  • When-Then”. Instead of the desired outcome being contingent on something related (for instance, needing clothes before going out), “when...then' statements show that the outcome is contingent on obeying you. “When you're finished with your homework, then I'll let you play basketball” makes it clear that you expect them to do what you say before anything else happens.

Hopefully you'll be able to use these tips next time you feel your children aren't listening to you. If they don't do what you say, they at least have one less excuse to give! If you practice, maybe you can get that other huge child of yours (in other words, your husband) to pay attention too! Good luck with that. :)

No comments:

Post a Comment