Parent Tips: Set 1-Say What You Mean. Mean What You Say

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I wish you'd get dressed." "I think you should start on your report." "It would be nice if you cleaned up your room." "Be good."

Fuzzy statements like these leave kids wondering exactly how they should respond. Kids interpret them at face value which leads to battles. It helps kids cooperate when parents are very specific with their requests.

Say please
We learned this one in kindergarten! Saying please softens your request and when followed with a specific call to action it can get a kid moving. And adding a "thank you" is adding an assumptive close! "Please take out the trash before dinner. Thank you." The added benefit here is that you are modeling the behavior you want your child to learn.

Be Specific
When you say "Clean your room." your child hears, "Shove everything under the bed so I can't see it." In essence, he is doing as he was told. Prevent this miscommunication by being very clear, "Please put clothes in the closet, toys in the toybox, and books on the shelf." Now THAT is very clear.

Think
Often, we make half-hearted request of our child, and when he doesn't respond we just drop it. Typically, this happens over little issues, and we drop it because it's not worth fighting over. The problem is, a child gets in the habit of ignoring you, on both little issues and big ones. When you take a breath, take a minute and think first, you can then be clear with your request, and willing to follow through to the end.

Eye-to-Eye
How often do you call to your child from another room and expect him to listen? Do you then have to follow up with, "Did you hear me?" Instead, take the time to get eye-to-eye with your child. Make a clear, specific request and then ask, "What do I need?" When your child tells you what you said it helps him remember! For example, your child is in the next room playing his computer game. Go to him, look him in the eye, and say, "John. Please take out the trash before dinner. Now, what do you need to do?" When John says, "I need to take the trash out before dinner." he has given himself clear instructions and is likely to follow through!

Pick Your Battles
Parenting is a 24-hour-a-day job. If you try to deal with every issue, fix every problem and be a constant teacher and coach you will drive yourself C R A Z Y! Instead, before you open your mouth, take a minute to decide if this issue is worth a battle. If you decide that it is - then win it at all costs! This will prevent you from choosing the wrong battle, realizing it midstream, and then letting your child win because it's really not important. The danger is that your child doesn't know you've changed your mind due to a better decision. He figures you changed your mind because he put up a good fight ...which leads him to try again the next day and the next. Fight the important battles, and using good skill and a level head -WIN! It's good for you, and best for your child.

Mini Tip
The Higher You Go The Lower I Go
What usually happens when your child raises his voice? You raise yours! Then both of you are yelling and nobody is being heard. Instead, try the higher/lower technique. The higher your child raises his voice, the lower and slower you respond. There is a great illusion of power when you lower your pitch and tone. Stay calm and controlled and you'll have a better chance of being heard. Your child may calm down, too.

Credits: Elizabeth Pantley

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