Learning to say “no” is one of the many, expected milestones we can expect to mark in our child’s development. But learning to voice out one’s opinion is different from being persistently negative and stubborn.
While parents do their best to impart good values to kids, there are times when this will feel impossible. The key to this, it seems, is communicating efficiently.
So what do the experts have to say? Here some simple ways you can make sure your little one grows up to be kind, obedient, and well-mannered.
1. Teach them one thing at a time
Giving proper direction is important, but so is being patient with your kid. Accept that toddlers and young kids tend to have short attention spans and unclear directions will not only confuse them, they just won’t register.
It’s also important to tell and not to ask. Apparently, experts believe there is a big difference between phrases like “Please clean your room” and “Will you clean your room, please?”
2. Give them choices
Don’t overwhelm your kid. Make sure they know they have choices. According to Dr. Erin Leyba of Psychology Today, giving kids the right to an opinion builds mutual respect and establishes cooperation. It’s also important to remember to be consistent in giving them choices. If you’re going to a restaurant, for example, allow them to choose from two options.
3. Establish rules and boundaries
Dr. Nancy Darling of Psychology Today views behavior control as something that’s straightforward. Parents who try to control how a child feels as well as what he does run the risk of becoming manipulative. As parents, setting limits and guiding kids to do the right thing is part of raising them right, but it’s also important to allow them room to question and grow.
4. Connect in a real way
Meet them halfway. Keep eye contact or speak to them at eye level. Dr. Laura Markham’s advice, in an article for Psychology Today is to “move in close” when giving directions, instead of saying it from across the room.
Touch his or her arm while speaking gently, for instance, if you want him or her to be more careful when playing with a ball, Dr. Markham suggests you say: “That looks like fun! But I’m afraid something could break when you throw that in the house.”
Even if a child gets upset, he or she has every right to express their feelings about your instruction. Though she must do as you say, she’s still allowed to be upset or unwilling.
Dr. Markham empashizes the need to acknowledge your child’s feelings. For instance, say: “You wish you could stay up later…I hear you. It’s so hard to stop playing and go to bed. I bet when you grow up, you’ll play all night, every night, won’t you?”
6. Emphasize the do’s and not the dont’s
When giving instruction, focus on what you want your child to do instead of what they shouldn’t do. It’s natural for parents to say “stop” or “don’t” to discourage unwanted behavior, but specificity is key.
It’s also essential to be specific. If you want a kid to “behave”, make sure he or she knows what you mean by this. Do you want him to stop playing with his food? Does “behave” mean not fighting with his sibling? Specific instructions are key.
7. Check if your child followed your direction
Making sure that your child listens and obeys reinforces better behavior. Once they follow, reward them through praise and encouragement. Try not to yell or show exasperation when they don’t comply. Emphasize the rules you’ve set.
8. Build mutual respect
Jane Rodda of The Bump believes that children need parents not dictators or peers. Moreover, children who feel respected learn how to respect others and themselves. Having parents who respect and value their opinion will also teach them that respect is earned, not demanded.
Dr. John Petersen of Good Therapy echoes this, stressing the importance for parents to be models of respect. He believes parents should focus on achieving cooperation instead of mere compliance. He believes parents should also manage expectations, be patient, and most all, “say what you mean and mean what you say.”
READ: 6 Tips to nurture your relationship with your teen
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