Firstly there is a gross misconception on the art of talking. Whether children or adults we shouldn’t talk “to” people, we should talk “with” people and it should always be a two way communication.
Here are a few tips on ways you can talk with your children to ensure that they listen to you and you can ensure you have a clear understanding of each other.
When … Then, not if – When you clear your plate then we can watch TV. This implies that it is not an option. If you use the word “if” you are suggesting there is a choice in the matter.
Be Brief – If you ramble on you’ll find your children switch off. Don’t try and justify what you are saying, often the child isn’t interested. Put your main directive in your opening sentence and make it clear
Give Notice – We’re heading out soon, please put your toys away or say goodbye to Grandma
If the Answer is negative try to offer preferable alternatives – Don’t start with “No” – say “You can’t eat chocolate now but how about a yummy banana”
Get on your Child’s level – When offering specific directions get to your child’s level and have eye to eye contact. Make this authoritative but not commanding
Don’t forget your please and thank you – It doesn’t matter how old your child is, they will learn by example and you need to remember your mannersso they become an automatic response for your child also
You’d better – Is a bad option. Even if the action is imperative to be done drive your message from you’re point of view, eg “I’d like you to please …” or “I need you to …”
Overcoming difficulties – When you know there is going to be some form of defence or negative response to your request try offering something your child can’t refuse. “Clear the table so you can go back on your computer”
Getting your child to talk – Sometimes all you seem to get is yes and no answers. Don’t make these an option. Instead of “Did you have fun at Molly’s house today?” try asking “What did you and Molly do today?”
Positive directions – If offering directions don’t use short sharp commands, use “I want” or if a little less authority is required use “I would like”, eg “I want you to give that to your sister now” as opposed to “Give that to your sister now”
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