What We Do
- Listen to your child. Good communication begins with good listening. A youngster who feels that his/her own ideas, thoughts and feelings are valued will be more open to her/his parent's ideas, thoughts and feelings. That's why giving "your" attention is the first rule of getting "his/hers."
- Use "I-Messages" rather than "You-Messages." This means phrasing things in terms of what "you" want and feel, instead of dictating a solution to your child or accusing her/him of something. An example might be rather than saying, "You're being a pest," say, "I'm tired and I don't want to play now."
- Be aware of kids’ rules. Children spend a great deal of time at school and with their friends; that world is as real to them as their world at home with their parents. Sometimes translation from one world to another makes for misunderstandings.
- Mean what you say, say what you mean. Unfulfilled promises and threats undermine a child's confidence in what he/she hears you say and whether it's to be believed. When Andrew's mother says for the umpteenth time, "Stop pushing your brother down or I'll send you to your room, " and then doesn't follow through, Andrew gets a clear if unspoken message: Mommy's words are empty.
- Don't Lecture. "I wish I could talk to my dad," says 12-year-old Lisa. "But whenever I ask him something, he launches into this big long thing that goes on and on and on. The other day I was trying to talk to him about all the homework I have to do and he gave me this big sermon about how it was good for me and I should just do it, because that's what he did when he was my age." Unhappily, unless things change soon, Lisa will probably stop approaching her father and will begin to tune him out.
- Stay positive. There was a big puddle in the schoolyard that two lines of grade-schoolers had to cross to return to the school building after recess. One teacher said to her pupils as each reached the water, "Don't step in the puddle!" The other teacher said to each child, "Jump!" In the first group there were several pairs of wet feet, in the second, none. The point: It's far easier to "do" something than to "not do" something else.