Published on June 9, 2016 inParenting on LandOMoms.com
You’ve been there, when you hear a mom or yourself saying, “my kid’s so shy” or “my child will never eat that!” Even though these kinds of declarations seem harmless, they have more impact than we realize. How we say things matters.
The way children hear and perceive our words plays an important role in shaping their awareness, choices, and their view of themselves in the world. So next time you hear yourself making a blanket statement about your child, something we’ve all done, pause and ask yourself: are these statements encouraging or are they counter productive?
Blanket Statements Do More Harm Then We Realize
Often, they’re probably hurting your goal of getting your kid to say hi or eat more veggies. Also note that kids often mirror our best and worst behavior—if you’re grumpy or impatient or if you’re happy and positive when teaching them or correcting their behavior, their response will be similar.
As parents, we are responsible for creating a consistent climate of communication. You may find yourself in the same cycle – when tough situations arise, voices, tempers and frustration rise, which makes the situations even worse! It’s the way we communicate around those tough situations everyday that counts. You may even feel like you say the same phrases like a song on replay!
So, stop and ask yourself: are your communication skills bringing you closer to the goals you have for your children and family? If not, it’s possible that the culprit is a problem that many parents struggle with: over-lecturing.
The Over-Lecturing Issue
Why is over-lecturing a problem? Because it’s important not to always be telling your children things. Simply telling your child something doesn’t create space for dialogue. Instead of saying, “Your room isn’t clean,” ask, “Why isn’t your room clean?” Asking them first shows that you value the dialogue and are engaging them in conversation—and believe it or not it’s actually more persuasive!
Think back to your best teachers—did he or she provide a classroom style lecture with no discussion? It’s doubtful! Or, did the teacher engage you and your classmates often, asking you to share your opinion or offering stories and hands-on experience to teach you a lesson? Didn’t you learn and grow more? Didn’t you have an emotional investment in this teacher, wanting to succeed and make them proud? The answer is likely a resounding “yes!”
So take a similar approach with your own kids. This may seem obvious, but we lose sight of how our communication style impacts our children and their response to us, especially when we’re trying to get them to do chores, homework and stay on task or when we’re just plain tired!
The Gift of Conversation
Kids need to learn how to converse, to express their feelings and opinions. “Because I told you so” leaves little room for that. Yes, you set the rules and expectations; but, instead of lecturing, encourage dialogue. When you do this, you’re making deposits with emotional value into a relationship bank account.
So next time, instead of the telling-and-yelling replay, engage your kids in an actual conversation. You’ll be gaining more “buy in” from your child, who will want to be on your team.