10 Firm & Kind Phrases to Use When Your Child isn’t Listening
10 Firm & Kind Phrases to Use When Your Child isn’t Listening
Let’s talk communication & how to have no drama when it comes to speaking to & teaching our children! With a strong intention & some focus, your kids will be listening better & cooperating more easily, so you can spend more time connecting, than correcting … let’s get started!
There are many things that parenthood teaches us and one of the best is that our children are often the best mirrors.
When I first found the work of Positive Parenting, I was a new parent who thought I kind of knew it all. I had always been great with kids, so of course when I had my own, things would just fall into place, right?
Not exactly. When life pivoted (the year I became a full-time stay at home mom), my perspective shifted and I soon realized that my 3 year old strong-willed daughter (who seemed to always be misbehaving) had some incredible things to teach me.
One of the first lessons was that no matter how many ways I tried to teach her how to be a respectful, kind, little human, who listened and respected others, it was all in how I acted, communicated and treated her that was teaching her the most.
As I learned more and more about positive parenting psychology and curriculum, I slowly replaced my often judgmental, negative, threatening tone with a neutral, problem solving, empathetic, encouraging one (this took TONS of practice, and I’m still a work in progress) and my little girl’s behavior improved dramatically.
The lesson was clear for me …
>>> Talk to mini-humans the way you’d like to be talked to and things will go a lot smoother. Easier said than done, so over the years, I’ve adopted the motto “Progress over perfection.”
Take these situations & consider applying some new verbiage!
These 10 positive phrases are a great place to start if you’d like to make afresh start with your communication:
1.“What do you need to remember?”
Take a break from: “Be careful.”
Example: “What do you need to remember when you play at the park?” or “Please move slow like a careful turtle when walking on top of that wall.”
Explained: Kids often ignore when we say this same thing again and again. Instead, engage their critical thinking skills and have them re-state the important precaution.
Or give them specifics on what you want.
2.“Please talk softly.”
Take a break from: “Stop yelling!” or “Be Quiet!”
Example: “Please talk softly or whisper,” (said in a whisper voice) or, “I love your singing, AND I need you to outside or in the playroom to sing loud.”
Explained: Some kids are naturally louder than others. If they have trouble speaking softly, show them where they can go to be loud and also use the power of the whisper. In combination with a gentle touch and eye contact, whispering is an incredibly effective way to get kids to listen.
3.“Would you like to do it on your own or have me help you?”
Take a break from: “I’ve asked you three times, do it now!”
Example: “It’s time to leave. Would you like to put on your shoes by yourself, or have me help you?” or “Would you like to hop in your car seat by yourself or have me put you in it?”
Explained: Most kids respond incredibly well to being empowered. Give them a choice and their critical thinking skills override their temptation to push back.
4. “What did you learn from this mistake?”
Take a break from: “Shame on you” or “You should know better.”
Example: “What did you learn from this mistake?” or “What did you learn and how will you do it differently next time, so you don’t get in trouble at school?”
Explained: Focusing on motivation to change behavior for the future will get you much better results than placing shame on past misbehavior.
Take a break from: “Don’t!” or “Stop It!”
Example: “Please pet the dog gently” or “Please put your shoes in the closet.”
Explained: Do any of us go through our day telling waitresses, baristas, friends, etc. what we DON’T want? No, right? We wouldn’t get the best response if we said “Do
NOT give us a whole milk latte” or “I don’t want the chicken.” That form of negative communication isn’t perceived well and puts undue strain on relationships. Instead, try asking for what you do want.
6. “We are on cheetah time today and need to move fast!”
Take a break from: “Hurry Up!” or “We are going to be late!”
Example: “We’re on racehorse time today! Let’s see how fast we can move!”
Explained: Be sure to let them be on turtle time sometimes! We could all use a healthy dose of slowing down, so provide mornings where everyone is relaxed & kids can move slow.
7.“Do you want to leave now or in ten minutes?”
Take a break from: “Time to go…now!”
Example: “Do you guys wanna leave now or play for ten more minutes, then leave?
Why it works: Kids love to be in charge of their own destiny, especially power kids!
This takes a tad bit of proactivity, but it works like a charm! Give them a choice & they’ll respond much better when you say “Ok, 10 minutes is up, time to go.”
8. “Let’s add that toy you want to your birthday list.”
Take a break from: “We can’t afford that” or “No, I said NO TOYS!”
Example: “I am not willing to buy that, would you like me to put it on your birthday wish list?”
Explained: If we’re being honest, we often CAN afford the $5 lego at checkout, we’re just not willing to purchase it. But then buy a $5 almond milk latte from Starbucks.
Instead of blaming our finances and creating feelings of scarcity, own your limit, then offer ideas to help them learn how to get it (birthday, earning money, etc.).
9. “Stop, breathe, now ask for what you want.”
Take a break from: “Stop whining!”
Example: “Let’s stop, breathe together, now try again to ask for what you want.“
Explained: Be sure to model this too. Keep repeating it calmly while breathing with them, till they can self-calm and change the way they’re talking.
10. “Respect yourself and others.”
Take a break from: “Be good.”
Example: “Remember to respect yourself and others when you’re inside the jumpy today.”
Explained: Be specific here as kids often don’t absorb the general statements we throw at them. Ask for what you want and have them restate what is important to remember.