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Coming Through Loud And Clear: Speaking To Your Child So That You “Will” Be Heard

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

My husband and I were recently having a conversation with a young couple lucky enough to already have kids in their tweens and teens and who are just now trying to teach them about taking responsibility for themselves by being firm(er) about laying down the law.

But, as my husband says, teaching kids is a lifelong process and it starts the day they are born.

But, even adults have communication problems between them; so to say that parents frequently face “difficulty” in communicating with their children may be somewhat of an understatement. Then of course there’s the “discrepancy” of saying something and actually getting your child to listen and follow through. But, according to experts, getting what you want may be easier than you thought. In fact, just like communicating at work or with your spouse, it’s all about how you convey your point.

1. Say what you mean and mean what you say: Don’t just tell your kids you expect your kids to have their homework done before dinner or that they can’t watch too much television, but instead be specific. Let kids know what time it is, when you are having supper and how long they have in between. You should also be specific about how YOU define a lot of television. Do you mean one show or one hour? Clarify for best results and without leaving any room for interpretation or confusion.

2. Make confident statements: Refrain from pleading or begging your child to follow instructions, this makes it seem as if you have little or no control. Instead give orders lovingly, but with confidence and authority, and without any room for debate. While it’s perfectly fine to be polite, for instance: “Please sweetie put your shoes on now”, it’s never appropriate to leave the choice in the child’s hands “Please, can you listen to mommy or daddy and put your shoes on before we go”.

3. Give children freedom of choice, but only when it makes sense: While it’s perfectly fine to stress independent thought and independence, it’s never okay to promote “critical thinking” when it comes to core fundamentals. For instance, your child can decide if he or she would prefer ice in their glass of water or not, but should never be given the option of whether or not he or she would prefer “not’ to brush his or her teeth.

4. Talk only when they are listening: Lots of kids can get easily distracted or tune you out. So, giving direction or instruction may be an effort in futility unless you have the child’s undivided attention. Make your child look you in the eye and repeat back to your what you have said and how you expect the task to be accomplished. And, you may even want to encourage “older” children to also write your instructions down.

5. Make the behaviour, not the child the main focus and keep it positive: Don’t ever put down your child by implicating that he or she is “bad”, but instead tell your child that the behaviour is “bad” and explain why. Also never compare your child to another, not even a sibling; it can be very damaging to his or her self-esteem.

Long Island Family Life & Parenting Articles > Coming Through Loud And Clear: Speaking To Your Child So That You “Will” Be Heard

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