ďSuzy, get your shoes on! Tommy, zip up your coat! Paul, bring your schoolbooks. Come on kids!! Letís go!Ē
Nagging and constant reminders can wear us down as parents. A lot of times children act as if they are ignoring us because they are feeling powerless in a given situation. Offering them the chance to participate in what is happening could be the difference between losing our own voice from yelling and helping them find theirs.
There are powerful and less powerful ways to communicate the same thing to our children. With a few positive gestures, we can turn our arguing into empowered communication with our kids. Hereís how:
Problem: Your children smack their lips or talk while they eat. More than likely, they arenít doing it on purpose to offend you; nonetheless, they must learn table manners at some point.
Solution: Offer to teach them a sign for when they start to chew loudly or talk with their mouths full. For instance, my four-year-old eats about as loudly as any bovine at feeding time. To counteract the noise, I showed her the sign of rubbing my nose to signal her lip-smacking. She immediately laughed and chewed with her mouth closed. It is a fun reminder of what is proper table etiquette and what is not.
Problem: Your child tarries when you need to leave the house on time. She nevers puts her shoes on when you ask her to, and you end up yelling to get her out the door.
Solution: Hand your child her shoes and ask, ďAre these your shoes?Ē It transfers the childís attention to the object at hand and away from the distraction. At the same time, it removes your having to nag her to do what she is supposed to do.
Replacing commands with questions is an effective technique which engages the child in the situation. Questions allow the child to partake in the experience instead of being the passive one that follows commands. Since we all know barking orders at children rarely works for long, it is essential to adopt more powerful ways to communicate with them.
You may not be able to use these techniques every day. No one can. But the more you apply them in your lives, the more you will see an improvement in how your children react. I know when Iím not using these techniques on my children. They yell at each other more to blow off the steam generated by my yelling at them first. So go out there, rub noses, ask questions, and listen to the answers. You may find your children are powerful partners in communication, too.
Christine Louise Hohlbaum, American author of Diary of a Mother: Parenting Stories and Other Stuff, has been published in hundreds of publications and has appeared on numerous parenting radio programs. When she isnít writing, leading toddler playgroups or wiping up messes, she prefers to frolic in the Bavarian countryside near Munich where she lives with her husband and two children . Visit her Web site: www.diaryofamother.com
Submitted by: Christine Louise Hohlbaum * †
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