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The Voice Of Reason: Getting Kids To Cooperate and Listen

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

Most expectant parents will tell you that while they may (secretly) have a preference, what they really want is a healthy baby. Still, what most also hope for is a healthy baby that is a good sleeper, good eater, and well behaved.

The latter however, is something that mom and dad have to teach over time. Yet, in many cases “time” seems like the nemesis as the older your kids get, the less likely they seem to listen or want to listen to you. And, that often leaves many parents frustrated, exasperated, and wondering what they are doing ‘wrong”. So, who better to ask than kiddies themselves, why efforts to communicate (by mom and dad) seem mute? Here is what some had to say.

· If you’ve said it once, you’ve said it a thousand times: And that means your kids have heard it a thousand times, which in many cases may be exactly what it takes to finally and eventually get through to them. Still, kids typically have “short” attention spans and don’t want to hear the same thing over and over and over again. But, if you “must”, you also must make your approach fresh and unpredictable, and in a way the emphasizes love and caring, rather than staunch parenting.

· Monkey see, monkey do: With most household comprised of two very busy and tired working parents, it’s likely you barely have time enough for yourselves, let alone for quality time with the kiddies. In fact, most of your “important conversations” probably take place “in transit” and in a somewhat rushed manner with your attention divided between communication with your kids and doing something else. Well, guess what, kids begin to emulate this behaviour and, while they may be (partially) listening, are also partially engaged in something else. With that said, its best to block out some serious talk time, perhaps even incorporate it with an activity you know they’ll like, like sharing a lunch, getting your nails done, etc.

· Information overload: I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “it’s not what you say, but how you say it”….and most of us apply this rule when speaking to peers. In fact, when dealing with co-workers friends and family we have “diplomacy” pretty much down to a science. Yet, we forget to apply these rules when speaking to the kids. For the most part, parents have lots to say and not enough time to say it all, so they overload their kids with facts and information, usually talking at them and not to them or with them, and frequently leaving little room for interaction. Kids need parents to be clear and concise and also the opportunity to give their side of the discussion. This is especially important for imparting the notion that you have their best interest at heart and more importantly are open to their views and are on their side.

· We’re not telling them something they don’t already know: Kids likely know the facts well before we are ready as parents to discuss them with them. So, instead of always guiding and barking out instructions, parents may want to reinforce what they already know and open the door for discussion about topics that may be currently important to them. Let them tell you what’s on their mind, what they are experiencing and then you can guide, perhaps by even discussing similar situations in your life.

· We send mixed signals: Most of us are hypocrites at one point or another and kids are pretty good at picking up on that. Ironically we dictate that kids act and speak in a certain way, a way, we don’t always practice ourselves. When we say one thing and do another, kids tend to mimic our behaviours more than they are likely to follow our instructions, which is why it’s imperative for mom and dad to have their acts together FIRST.

· We fail to accentuate the positives: Most parents tend to only point out or discuss the negatives, but rarely address, discuss or compliment the positives. Sure, it’s important to teach them about avoiding risky or bad behaviours, but it’s equally as important to “applaud” them for “getting it right”. So, when kids come home with good grades, or pass up drinking or smoking, or choose friends that we approve of, be vocal about letting them know.

Long Island Family Life & Parenting Articles > The Voice Of Reason: Getting Kids To Cooperate and Listen

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