What You Say and How You Say It As a Parent

What You Say and How You Say It As a Parent

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One of the best lessons I learned early on as a parent is still the biggest asset in my parenting tool kit up to date. It is understanding HOW to talk to kids. It really is fascinating how different the little minds can work and how much of an impact our words have on them. Sometimes it isn’t even what we say, but how we say that matters as well.

Here are some examples of what we say vs what kids hear:

We say: “don’t go there! You will fall down! Don’t touch the dog, it can bite!”
Kids hear: “this world is a dangerous place”
Better option: “take care of yourself, be careful.”
Kids’ reaction: “ok! What do I need to pay attention to?”

We say: “Hurry up! I don’t have time!”
Kids hear: “you are not important. I don’t care about you”
Better option: “I have 15 minutes, how long will it take you? Can you make it?”
Kids’ reaction : “ok! I can be SUPER fast!”

We say: “don’t cry! Don’t scream! Don’t yell!”
Kids hear: “I don’t care about your emotions!”
Better option: “you are so tired, yes? What do you want?”
Kids reaction: “ok! can I just tell you I want {...}?”

We say: “how many times do I need to tell you this?!”
Kids hear: “I’m so stupid. I am a looser”
Better option: “what do you think the best solution is?”
Kids’ reaction: “ok! Let me try and I will ask if I need help”

These are just some examples of what is happening in little heads. It’s mind blowing to think that kids can perceive things so differently, but they do, partially, because they are still growing and their brains are developing.

For me, this realization and a small change in communication alone removed 80% of the stress that comes with toddler years, transition periods, etc. My kids are not magic, but, like any other kids out there, when they understand what we want from them, they respond. Sometimes all it takes is a little different way of phrasing, and keep in mind the tone as well as we say things.

Children are eager to learn, and if we help them in this process it will make it much easier for everyone.

Do you notice a difference when you talk to your kids in “kid language” ? Does it help?
What works for you during the tantrums? Does anything help? Or nothing works?

PS: And for the times when everything fails, a little fun treat will always do the trick :)


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