When we take time to listen responsively—and avoid the error of answering with authoritative pronouncements—the messages given back to us by our children are far less likely to be obnoxiously defensive. This, in turn, reduces the tension and may well help us avoid angry exchanges.—Dr. Bob Pedrick
How would you feel if someone who was [in a position of authority over you] got angry and screamed at you? You’d probably feel like shriveling up and blowing away. Add an audience, and you’d feel verbally tarred and feathered. Now, you might quickly do what that authority figure wanted you to do, but you’d despise that person for embarrassing you.
Children aren’t that much different from grown-ups in this respect. They don’t like being belittled or demeaned, especially in front of an audience.
It would be best if you could catch yourself before you got so upset that you felt like screaming. Here are some ideas:
If your child isn’t paying attention the first or second time you speak, try lowering your voice instead of raising it. Go over to your child, look him in the eyes and whisper your message.
Or you might want to go one step further and try the silent method. Just go and stand next to your child and don’t say anything until he or she turns and looks at you. When you have her full attention, make your request. Sometimes just placing your hand softly against the child’s back and waiting will get her attention.
Once you have your child’s attention, make your request clearly and firmly. Then make sure you follow up so you are certain she is doing what you want. When you do this, you’ll find a significant increase in your child’s compliance without any harmful side effects. And, you’ll feel a whole lot better by having tempered your temper!—Dr. Kay Kuzma6
Do you ever sit down with your child and talk for a few minutes only about his or her concerns? Finding a few minutes each day to do this will pay handsome dividends in building a relationship of loving trust with your child.
What will you talk about? What is your child concerned about most? People who are good conversationalists will tell you that you can talk for hours with anyone of any age, at any intellectual level, adult or child, and hold them captivated. All you have to do is show a genuine interest in that person and ask questions that help you explore that interest. What does this person do? How does he do it? What does she like? Why?
If you want people to show loving concern for your interests, think how much more your child wants you, as a parent, the most important person in the world to him, to show that loving concern for his interests.
But exactly what should you say when you take those few precious moments to talk with your child? That depends on what your child has done. Did he just come home from school? Is it time to read her a bedtime story? Did he just break a favorite dish? Is she having a temper tantrum? Is he sassing you back about something? Did she just come through the door crying because some friends weren’t being kind to her?
Start with the circumstance. That’s always a good starting point, because that is uppermost in the child’s mind at that time. Then go from there.—V. Gilbert Beers