My friends and family have been telling me for ages I should blog about this topic… what better time to do it when most people are spending a lot more time at home with their families.
Firstly let’s look at some facts (I like facts!). Most people don’t like being told what to do, I certainly don’t like being told what to do! It’s been well researched that kids like having two things in their lives ‘Attention’ (Good or bad!) and ‘Control’. It’s also well researched that nagging doesn’t work. It’s a drain for the parents, the kids don’t respond well and a it’s real mood hoover to live in a house with the constant hum of nagging.
Early into being a new mum (something I really struggled with, you can read about that here) I wanted to empower my kids to be strong independent thinkers and I didn’t want to be a nag. From my 20 years management experience and attending many coaching courses I knew the power of questions. Constantly giving instructions or solutions doesn’t help the brain to develop and grow. I also write about and know the power of choices and control so it made sense that I should make this the foundation of my parenting.
The way I always try to communicate with my kids takes all this into consideration and is designed to teach my kids one of the most important lessons; how to identify and make good choices. Something I’m so passionate about.
Here’s how it works; in principle I use a question rather than an instruction ‘What do you think I’m going to say about that?’ being my favourite go to question. In asking a question rather than giving an order or solution I’ve already achieved two things, I’ve kept the mood neutral and calm whilst empowering, exercising and growing the part of my kids brains responsible for choices and decisions. There are other great questions, all of which that are designed to achieve the outcome I want whilst giving my kids some choice, control and opportunity. Some other great questions: (And in brackets the words they could replace)
- Do you think that’s a good idea? (Stop it! Don’t do that!)
- What do you think will happen if…….? (Put that down before you break it)
- How do you think that makes her/him feel? (Well that’s not very nice! Don’t say that!)
- How can I help you with that? (Calm down!! That’s not how you do that.)
- How would you feel in that situation? (Be kind! Don’t do that to him/her)
- What do you want to do about it? (You shouldn’t… you should…)
- Would you like me to help you? (You ought to…. I would do this…)
- What do you want to choose to do instead of that? (Stop doing that and do this!)
- What could you do to be helpful? (Do the washing up, tidy your bedroom etc.)
- Could you pick nicer/kinder words? (Don’t speak me to like that!)
I’m not suggesting you only communicate in questions as that would be weird! Instead, think about tensions in your life with your kids, times when you shout or don’t like the way you parent and try and change some of the language you use referring to the questions above. When you first start you may need to help your children with the answers by offering some options. I guarantee this technique will bring more calmness to your life and help your little ones to grow up capable of making good choices, showing empathy and understanding consequences.
Here’s a simple example of the technique;
KID: Mum/Dad, I want an ice-cream (Before dinner!)
PARENT: What do you think I’m going to say about that?
PARENT: That’s right, why do you think I’m going to say no?
KID: Because we haven’t had dinner yet.
PARENT: If you want an ice-cream after dinner, what can you do to make that happen?
KID: I can eat my dinner nicely and eat all my veg.
PARENT: Great idea! In which case I reckon you’re going to get that ice-cream that you want, it’s totally within your control. Go for it!
If you have any specific situations and you are struggling to use the technique send me an email or make a comment and I’ll help you write your questions to handle those specific situations better.
If this is something you really want to master I can coach you to deal with any parenting situation, get in touch for a 20 minutes free consultation.
Remember, these things take time. Patience and practice are the key but you’ll be amazed by the reward. Good Luck!