How to Talk So Kids Will Listen (Part Two): Engaging Cooperation

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen (Part Two): Engaging Cooperation

Getting children to cooperate, to behave in ways you or the people around you need them to can be an exercise in frustration. Threats, warnings, and lectures are some of the ways that don’t work. However, there are ways to engage your child and remind them of the behavior you want to see.

  1. Describe what you see or describe the problem. “The light’s on in the bathroom.”
  2. Give information. “Milk turns sour when it’s left out.”
  3. Say it with a word. “Kids, pajamas.”
  4. Talk about your feelings. “I don’t like it when the door is left open. The flies get in.”
  5. Leave a note. (on the TV: “Have you done your homework?”

We want to avoid language that wounds the spirit. We want to create an environment that encourages children to cooperate because they care about themselves and they care about us.  We want to teach our children a respectful way to communicate that they can use now and as they grown into adults.

Next post: Alternatives to Punishment, Part A

How to Talk So Children Will Listen – Part 1

I have two sons, both now in college.  In addition, over the past twenty years, I personally have had over 1500 students. I have had ample opportunity to witness – and practice – those approaches to dealing with children which deliver the best results. This article is the first in a series outlining parenting books that I have found helpful in learning those skills that make relationships with children less stressful and more rewarding .

Because I will go into detail, each book will likely be the subject of several posts. We start off with one of the first parenting books I read:  How to Talk So Kids will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk. By Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen (Part One)

” I was a wonderful parent before I had children…. And then I had three.”  That was one of the authors of How to Talk So Kids Will Listen describing how it was she ended up in a parenting group that changed her ideas about how to deal with her children.  Like all parents, she had to deal with a  seemingly endless stream of squabbling, arguments, and other frustrating behavior. She wanted to know if there were a way to help both herself and her children.  How to Talk is the fruit of ten years of practicing and teaching the techniques I will out outlining in the posts to come.

There is a direction connection between how children feel and how they behave. This is the nutshell description of How To Talk.  Once we know how to help our children deal with their feelings, their behavior issues – and by extension our stress levels – diminish significantly.

Steps to helping yourself and your child deal with conflict

  1. Listen with full attention.
  2. Acknowledge their feelings with a word. “I see.”
  3. Give their feelings a name.
  4. Give them their wishes in fantasy.

We can accept a child’s feelings even if we must limit how those feelings are expressed toward others. Accepting a child’s feelings teaches the child that s/he can know and trust what s/he is feeling. Once children know how to identify their feelings, they are better able to know how to handle them.

When we accept a child’s feelings, we create the emotional space which allows the child to explore their own thoughts and feelings and possibly come up with their own solutions. This gives the child ownership of their problems.

Too, when we accept a child’s feelings, we validate and comfort that child. Sometimes just having someone understand how much you want something makes reality easier to bear.  Sometimes all a child needs to calm down is for someone to acknowledge their frustration, their hurt, their disappointment.

Next post: Engaging cooperation