If you’re a busy parent, you already know that learning how to talk so kids will listen can be a real challenge sometimes. But if you’re a parent of very young children, here’s a few tips to help you and your kids get on the right track early.
Here’s How To Talk So Kids Will Listen, And Listen So Kids Will Talk
- Keep things positive. Obviously, you’re going to have to tell your kids “no” or “don’t” sometimes, but if you lean on these two words frequently, there’s a good chance your young ‘uns will tune you out. If you’ve already said “no running inside” or “don’t drop that glass,” it’s likely your child has this committed to memory and even likelier she’ll still drop that glass, notes The Child Development Institute. Instead, why not tell your child what you want her to do? Try saying “only walking inside please?” or “hang on to that glass, your grandma gave it to me.”
- Practice makes perfect. This will take practice, but it’s worth the time because your kids will listen. Other words you should also avoid using: those that shame, name-call or ridicule your child. You may not realize it, but phrases like “you’re being a big baby,” or “you are being such a bad boy,” and “I’m ashamed of you,” are the very definition of shaming, name-calling and ridiculing.
- Use your child’s name. It is, after all, a real attention-grabber, for your child at least. Very young children usually focus on one thing at a time. Call her name out until she’s paying attention, then make your announcement:
“Jenny, did you put your toys away?” By calling Jenny’s name, you have her full attention.
- Thinking about yelling? Don’t. Kids have their own way of tuning things out, and that includes your loud voice. And if your child is yelling, now is the time to exercise control — no matter how difficult that may be in the heat of the situation. The time to begin the conversation is after he has calmed down. By not yelling and keeping your voice calm most of the time, your child will be more likely to listen if you raise your voice when an emergency occurs. And if you’re yelling instructions from another room, your child may also tune that out. “Danny, turn the television down,” or “dinner’s ready” may fall on deaf ears. Yelling from the kitchen when your child is watching TV may give him the impression you’re busy and don’t necessarily need his attention right away. Things will work better if you join him in the family room and wait for a commercial break and then make your announcements to him. Plus, you’ll be teaching him to be respectful, and he’ll know that because you’re talking to him directly, you expect him to listen.
- Allow them to have options and pick alternatives. This is another way regarding how to talk so kids will listen. When you offer them alternatives, tell them why you are doing this. By doing so, your kids will have a better understanding of what you want them to do. Here are a few examples: “When you put your coat on, you can go outside with Daddy,” “would you like to wear the blue shirt or the brown one?” or “Which book do you want to read, the one about the dog or the one about the cat?” Using words like “when” or “which” can make a child feel like he has options, even though there’s little wiggle room for negotiation. Another great idea: Let your kids help you solve problems. “Mary, where would you like to store your artwork so that it doesn’t get ruined? When you decide on a safe place, come tell me, okay?” Rather than telling your child a flat-out “no” or “don’t,” offer alternatives. Here’s another example: “You can’t paint right now, but you can use your crayons instead.”
And here’s the thing, this doesn’t have to be a boring or stressful experience. No, really. It doesn’t.
One of the cool things about this book is that it focuses more on the why, rather than the how. Here’s what I mean:
“Why the carrot is making them freak out is much more important than how ridiculous it is that they’re freaking out in the first place.”
More valuable pointers for communicating with your kids
The authors above note that it’s important to accept and acknowledge your child’s feelings. The book offers fun advice for kids and adults alike, including:
- Ways to tune into a child’s feelings by using non-judgmental verbal cues. “I can tell that shoelace is frustrating you.”
- Giving names to their feelings. “That stupid shoelace is being a pain, isn’t it?”
- Ways to avoid punishment and encourage cooperation. In this case, it really amounts to just taking a little time to explain things rather than make stark declarations. For instance, why not give information about a problem instead of accusations. Instead of saying “you better not spill that water on the floor,” try saying “I see there’s lots of water on the floor.” Instead of saying ” you’re damaging the floor,” say “that water can seep through and damage the ceiling below.”
- Add yourself to the story and brainstorm ideas with your kids. Since you’re talking to your kids about their emotions, let them know how YOU feel and how it affects you. While working with your child, why not come up with a list of suggestions and write them all down? Even the silly ones. Cross off the ones that definitely won’t work and keep at it until you both come up with a compromise.
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk is considered by many to be a parenting “Bible,” and it’s easy to see why.
It’s stuffed with information to help parents smooth over the bumpier parts of raising a child, and it gives us plenty of information on how to talk so a child will listen.
You can watch the video below for more information.