When I first encountered ‘How to talk so kids will listen & Listen so kids will talk’ it was a ‘video’ course filmed in the 80s, with accompanying shoulder pads, ‘word art’ fonts and classic music of that era. As I viewed this for the first time in 2010, this seemed hilariously outdated and I wondered how on Earth these middle aged ladies, Elaine Mazlish and Adele Faber – with their frizzy perms and blue eye-shadow – could possible teach me a thing as a modern Mum.
But by golly, they did.
I soon learnt that over the decades’ kids haven’t changed, not really. And after the immediate giggles at the obviously outdated fashion and fonts, these distractions were almost invisible. Parents were transfixed on their words. Why? Because what they said was so relevant – IS so relevant, in the 80s… today… and for as long as kids are in existence.
Kids don’t change. But the way WE feel and the way WE respond to them does.
I was so inspired with these ideas, I went on to use them in my teaching and own parenting for the years to follow. I soon discovered a passion in sharing this information and decided to make it my job.
Over and over I heard parents struggling with the same sort of problems with their children.
He’s so stubborn.
She argues with me all the time.
They just don’t listen.
So how has this come to be? Children continue to challenge their parents daily by ignoring their requests and denying them cooperation. Why?
Here’s what I’ve observed.
1. We talk too much. Us well-meaning parents do our best to morally educate our children but we just use too many words. It’s understandable that we just want to explode when we’ve asked the same thing four times and it’s still not done. I can’t believe that towel is STILL lying on the floor. If I’ve asked you once I’ve asked you a million times – Please pick up the towel! It will never dry if it’s left on the floor, let alone the messy appearance it gives your room. Seriously! You are so careless! The problem:they hear ‘blah, blah, blah’ and it doesn’t work. You can almost bet the towel will be on the floor again tomorrow.
2. We don’t give enough notice. You’re at a party and the kids are having a great time. Suddenly, your partner calls and says you need to pick them up so you pass the message on to your little person. Instant tantie.
Alternatively, you might go somewhere that is NOT fun and expect some amazing behavior only to be MAJORLY disappointed.Doctors waiting room, visiting a hospital, attending school assembly… the pressure is on and we realize too late that we should have given the pep talk BEFORE hand.
3. We don’t acknowledge how they feel. Often tantrums are the result of something we consider miniscule in the scheme of things. The problem is it’s not miniscule to them and until we stop and consider the scale of hugeness this is for them it won’t stop. Behaviour can’t improve until feelings are dealt with.
4. We are disconnected. Reality is that we are busy parents today. Whether it’s our disconnection or theirs, we don’t often stop and REALLY listen to what’s going on with our kids. I know myself how addictive technology can be – when I’m reading a juicy article about ‘The Bachelor’ everything else drones into the background! I’m imagining this also applies to my daughter’s ignorance when ‘My Little Pony’ is on TV.
Don’t despair! All is not lost.
‘How to talk so kids will listen & listen so kids will talk’ is about building relationships with children as opposed to controlling them and dominating their spirits. And it’s easy! No long drawn out slides of theory or philosophy – just practical skills that can be used immediately regardless of gender, age, financial position or culture. It gives me great pleasure to see parents coming with an open mind, applying the new skills they have learnt and have them come back the next week in excited bewilderment saying ‘It worked!’
Kids can and will listen, they just need to receive the right words in the right way.