Talking to Children

Listen to Children

Choices
When you ask a child, “Would you pick up your toys?” and your intention is to have the child pick up his or her toys, you are asking the child what he or she wants, and one of those choices could be “No.” Hence, you have now entered into a power struggle.
 
Instead, use these strategies for gaining cooperation:
 
* Use a warning: “In two minutes, it will be time to clean up.”
* Give a time choice: “Would you like to pick up your toys now, or after you finish coloring your paper?”
* Use partnership: “We can put the toys away together!”
* Use empowerment: “I bet you can pick up all these toys by yourself because I have seen you do it before!”
* Give another choice: “What would you rather do – put the toys on the shelf or in the box?”
 
Avoid using the word “NEED.”
 
For example, “You NEED to pick up your toys!” or “I need you to cooperate with me.” are not really true statements. No one “needs” to do anything.
What you are trying to say is that you would like them to pick up their toys. But, as noted above, there is a choice response of “no” when making the request.
 
Instead, use these strategies for gaining cooperation:
 
* Bring up a natural consequence:
“I am afraid that someone will step on these toys and break them. Where do they belong?”
* Do a rule reminder:
“Remember that we have to pick up the toys before we can go on the outing. Let’s hurry so we are not late!”
 
Talk to your children and teens about safety:
 
* Teach them body safety
* Teach them cyber safety
* Teach them about drugs and sex
* Teach them what to do if something happens
 
In all communication, remember the following:
 
* It is important to speak in a familiar and kind voice.
* Speak directly to the child, bend down to a face-to-face level, and don’t give directions from across a room.
* Remember that framing things in a positive way will in turn be a model of behavior for the child to follow.
* DO NOT give the child a choice if he or she does not really have one.
* DO NOT compare children (“Johnny can pick up HIS toys”).
* DO NOT impose guilt (“Only lazy children leave their toys on the floor”).
* DO NOT impose inferiority (“You are a big boy/girl now. It ‘s time for you to act like one”).
 

Modeling behavior is very important for children. Minimize your usage of “no” and “don’t”.
If a child constantly hears “no” and “don’t,” he will imitate by repeating “no” and “I won’t.”

 
Positive Phrases*

Say this: Instead of:
Sit down when you slide. Don’t stand up when you slide.
Dig in the sand. Don’t throw the sand.
Use both hands when you climb. You’ll fall if you don’t watch out.
Let’s put the stick in the trash. Don’t play with the stick, someone will get hurt.
Turn the pages carefully. Don’t tear the book.
Talk in a quiet voice. Don’t shout.
Drink out of your own glass. Don’t bother the other children.
Be sure the ladder is safe. You might fall.
Walk down the hallway. No running.
Move back on your rug. The other kids can’t see with you in the way.


*Adapted from Betsy Lazerow

 
Father & Daughter