It’s a popular topic for us parents. How
to talk so kids will listen? Vicki and I have 5 tips for you today. Talking to
kids so that they’ll listen is not that different from talking to other people
so that they’ll listen. And maybe we illuminate the obvious first. Your tone
of voice matters. How you’re presenting yourself. So if you’re all upset and out
of control, probably it’s not going to go really well. And people are going to be
tuning you right out. -Yeah, you get to be the one that sets the mood. Really by the
tone of voice that you begin with. -What if we were to start with stay calm.
-That is the common thing these days. Isn’t it? -You see t-shirts all the time.
Stay calm and parent on. -Yeah. And you know one of the reasons I think
you want to stay calm is because it keeps your mind working instead of your
emotions taking over. And that way you can kind of analyze where your child is.
Because you know we’ve talked so many times about stage, not age. So, one of the
first things you really want to think about is what stage is your child at?
Because it changes the way that you interact with them. Because remember we
talked a lot about how their motivation for cooperating or for performing is
actually dictated a little bit by what stage they’re in. -Oh, absolutely.
In fact, as a quick review. So stage 1. This is the least mature stage. And this
is where we expect little kids, like toddlers to be. They operate based on
very externalized kinds of motivation. So, they’re not thinking about, “Well, do I
really need to do something to connect with this person or what’s the right
thing to do?” That comes at a higher stage. So, it’s stage one, it’s very externalized.
And we don’t even get cooperation. -It’s consequently basically. -Yes. Exactly. -And
so one of the biggest tips for dealing with young children or children
in stage one. And and generally, you know smaller people is that you want to be in
their close proximity. I had a really good friend who was a great behaviorist.
And she said before you tell your child to stop jumping on the couch or
something, get physically near your child. Because if they don’t stop immediately,
you need to be there to physically guide them to the action that you’re asking
for. If you’re across the room yelling and they don’t cooperate, there’s nothing
you can do about it. -You know what? As you said across the room yelling,
sometimes we train our kids to tune us out. -Yeah. -And if it’s just background
noise, they’re going to be tuning us out. -Yeah. -So, your point is so important, Vicki.
As you get physically in their space, in front of them where you can actually put
your hands on their little shoulders and move them… -To what you need to. -…to
need to do. Now, obviously, this isn’t going to go well with a teenager in
terms of trying to move them physically. But the concept is still the same
because if you’re across the room yelling or if they’ve got their
headphones in, they are not listening to you, your background noise. -Well it
actually it still follows through too. Because those external consequences are
what usually governs stage one. -Right. -If your kid is in stage 2, you also want
to be right there, right away, in their proximity, at their level. But you’re also
ready to deliver the consequence or the cooperation or the discussion about that.
Because remember if there’s stage 2, they’re cooperating. -Right. -And so that’s
why it’s so important to be in their proximity and at their level. -While we’re
on this idea of physical proximity, think about stature too. A toddler, for example
or a preschooler or even a child that’s a little bit older is typically much
shorter than you are, right? So, you’re if you’re way up here towering
over them and looking down at them that creates a very different energy than if
you were to get down. So you’ve got kind of a level eye contact with the child.
Don’t be afraid to get on the floor or to go to your knees. -Or pull up a chair
so you’re talking to them. -Right. -You know. -It makes it more equal and more likely
that they’re going to listen. Moving out to a little bigger picture now. Let’s
talk about the context around this communication. I mentioned earlier an
example about a teenager with earphones in. -Yeah. -They’ve got their earbuds in. I
guarantee they’re not listening to you. So in addition to the physical proximity,
now let’s let’s move out from the person. And think about the environment around
you. It’s the television on for example. Is there a lot of noise going on? As we
manage the context around the communication, we can make it more likely
that the kids will listen to us. Back in in psychology school, we call this
situational planning. Where you set it up a classroom environment, for example. The
way you arranged the chairs and how the kids are facing or oriented or what’s
present in the room. So in the context of having a conversation with your child,
just do a quick look around the room and see what is there that could be
distracting or that could create noise that is going to get in the way of the
conversation and all of these things can improve your ability to be heard. -You
know, I was just thinking to add something to our proximity that we were
talking about just before we talked about a situation is. When you are
dealing with someone who’s more at a stage 2 or 3, it is really important to
consider your body posture. Because you can… -Right -…set up, you know, how you were
talking about towering over a small child. You can set up that say
type of a feeling intentionally or unintentionally with other people who
are closer to your size by your body posture. So you might want to just kind
of take a quick check of what your body posture is as you’re talking to someone.
And that kind of leads us nicely into our next point. Are you showing respect
with your body posturing. Are you trying to be bigger and over overbearing. Or are
you showing respect to the person that you’re talking to. You know, I thought
about this when I was about 22 years old. I got a letter for my brother once who
lived in a different state than me. And he said… He was talking about my little
nieces. And they were just young. They were maybe 5 years old or something.
And I remember him saying something about how he just respected her so much.
And I thought, “Well, that’s kind of odd.” Here’s my grown up brother talking about
respecting his 3 and his 5-year-old daughters. And I thought,
“Hmm.” And so I thought about that a lot over the years that we can and should be
respecting all people including our little children. -That is such a powerful
relationship tool. As we’re talking about communication, it changes the energy of
the communication. To show that respect for your child. And that brings up one
other issue related to respect. And that is to be respectable.
In other words earn their respect too. By how you honor and respect them and also
by how you treat them and the language that you use. I don’t think there’s ever
a time… Now I have to be careful about making definitive statements. But I think
we’re safe with this one. I don’t think there’s ever a time to talk
disrespectfully to your child. Now, I know that we get upset sometimes. -Right. And we
do need to show urgency and sturdiness at times. -Right. Which can be done in a
respectful way. So, you can be clear and assertive and kind and respectful all at
the same time. And that takes some practice maybe.
But being respectable and respectful, can we say both of those in the same
sentence? Be respectful and respectable. That just increases the level of
communication that can happen and makes it much more likely that they’ll listen.
I hope you know how sincere I am when I say that it’s an honor to be on your
parenting team. Honestly, there is no more important job in the entire world. Thank
you for being such a conscious parent. We look forward to creating even more value