Thursday, October 11, 2012

Do you, Will you, of course No Won't and Not - The Art of Communication with your child

Riding in the lift with a family of 4, the mum asks the 2 year old girl "Will you sleep in the car please?" which was responded by a string of giggles follow by an ear deafening "NOOOoooooo!!!!" from the girl (thank goodness it was not followed by some wailing & crying).

So the mum asked nicely, how come the little girl couldn't reply in a nicer way?  From their conversation after that, it was definitely not that they did not speak in a well mannered way.  Well the little girl is too young to behave in a "polite & nice" way, some of you may think.  Perhaps, but I am sure there are ways to make your little one work WITH you on certain situations and get the answer you want from them.

When DinoEgg was younger and going through his Terrible Two Three & Four, I have been through and have experienced the worst intense situation you can imagine.

Picture these;
* Do you want to try some vegetables?  Its good for you.  - NO! + YUCKS!
* Its bed time, will you please brush your teeth and go to bed now?  - Ohhhh No MUM! Not so soon!
* We are late, can you please put your shoes now so that we can leave the house? - Ok (but still stuck at whatever he is doing, not moving at all)

And then I have to bark more commands, instructions, pleas which may be the start of frustrations, meltdown, World War III, screaming shouting matches that may ended with every one in a foul mood and not able to go to where you planned to go initially.

I have learn that some times you just have to be rude to your kids to get things done.  Ok, maybe rude is a harsh word, Stern will be a more fitting word.  That plus a little bit of Negotiation thrown in at times.  And negotiations works even for a toddler, do not doubt their understanding skills, those little brains can process & work faster then you can imagine.  For my sometimes slow to adapt spirited child, I have to add in lots of Pre-empt even at his age now.  I will never use "Do you" or "Will you" when I need him to get things done immediately as these are open end questions which gives room to protests.

So how do you communicate with your child in a stern voice to get things rolling at some times? 

I give specific instructions in a firm voice, ending with a full stop instead of question mark.  To DinoEgg this usually mean that I am all business and expects no nonsense from him, thus he'd better act fast otherwise he will get an earful from me or some privileges being taken away for the day(s).

Here are some of our routine instructions that usually gets things rolling almost immediately.
* It's 9pm, time for your bath, please go now.
* Its bedtime, go brush your teeth and to bed.
* We are late, put on your shoes now so that we can leave immediately.

Now, negotiating to make your child agrees with you and give you the one and only answer? 

This is a little bit tricky that needs a lot of practice and usually requires dangling a carrot in front of DinoEgg since there will be some form of protest from him, I have to bear in mind not to give in to his protests/whines or show my temper.  It usually happens when he wants to continue to watch video on ipad, watch tv, play with his toys instead of jumping up and do the things immediately.

* I know you want to watch the video on the ipad, the earlier you takes your bath, the more time you will have to relax and watch them before its time to sleep.
* You want to read books before you sleep right?  Then quickly brush your teeth now so that you can have time to read them before going to bed.  Otherwise it will be too late to have any bedtime reading.
* Keep the jelly in the fridge, if you finish your dinner fast you may have it after that.

Even though he knows that my reasons are valid, you can see his brain churning and turning to find some reasons to rebut me.  And before he can think of some reasons and scream "OBJECTION!" I quickly use my stern voice to break his trains of thoughts and hurry him along.

I think pre-empts are necessary to prevent any meltdowns from kids of all ages.  For the spirited DinoEgg it is important as this gets his brain ready for the next step/task.

Morning are mad rush for us so in order to leave the house on time I need his full cooperation to get ready within the shortest period of time.  I try to keep him on a structured night routine as I prefer him to get at least 8 hours of good sleep so that he wakes up fresh and energize the next day.  Therefore my usual pre-empt to him are "You have XX minutes before...".  You may wonder why do I need to repeat them almost every day since its a routine he should know what is expected from him at that specific time.  Well, kids do not spring into action by simply pressing the "start" button, plus his slow to adapt trait means it takes longer then usual for him to get into action.

Besides the above, I constantly have to pre-empt him on many situations, such as;
* We are going out for dinner so when we reach home, I want you to quickly change out from your uniform so that we can leave the house soon.
* Tomorrow we are not going for your art class, we are going to a birthday party (He loves his Saturday art class, he does not takes it well if we choose not to go).

Even with these pre-empt, he will also kick up a fuss and sometimes will not cooperate with us to do things fast or he will start his endless "why" "but I don't want" and his tantrums.

Of course, during the course of conversations, Please and Thank you are not left out, other then the times when he really gets into my nerves.  And when it does happen, Now! will be used with full strong force.

So, take a deep breath *in-hale~ ex-hale~* learn the art of communication that works well with your child and forever you will have an almost perfect inner peace with less wrinkles and white hairs.

Remember, your child's main purpose in this world is not out to get you or drive you up the wall, they are merely little humans who have their emotions and thoughts, they need guidance from us to be a better person in future.

~ ~ ~

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  1. We just have to keep emphasizing! grrr... I get that a lot. But it does make a difference when you make a stern statement versus asking them a question which they are bound to say no. Oh you can also try this : give a choice if possible. Like, would you prefer this or that? Then quite automatically, they will answer either one and both answers should work for you in the first place. :)

    1. I tried! And he will say he wants option #3 when there isn't any option #3 =.= Becoz usually he will not like the 2 options that i give him LOL

    2. hahaha! aiya then tweak it! Make it work for you. Last time when my kids were about 4-5 yo, they didn't want to come in the house. I asked, you can either walk in yourself or I will carry you in. Which one do you want? They guai guai walk in. hahaha

    3. Aye... cant beat him lah so better dun give options, sure make my blood pressure shoot up.

  2. I totally agree. Different kids need different approaches.

    I realized that raising my voice doesn't work on C. He simply either chooses to ignore me, continues whatever he's doing to spite me, or just becomes defiant.

    Reasoning, however, works wonders. It's not the words that are used, but the tone in which it is relayed. He knows I mean business when I use very low, measured tones. When I'm really angry, he's sensitive enough to know, simply by looking at me, and 'feeling' the deathly silence.

    1. low, measured tones <--- like "u better listen or else" tone? Works with dinoegg too! I used my daggered stares to tell him i am really mad at him.

    2. OMG! so many grammar mistakes! LOL ok nvm coz you were the cause of it!

  3. For me, I have to use different tactics on different child. See how tiring & sianz that can be when I really need them to do things fast.

    1. Amie, maybe u can use a general tactic for 3 of them to help u do things, then specific tactic for individual? Haha ok ok, coming out from the mouth of a mother of ONE child really isn't making any sense. Maybe you can say things like "I would love it if all 3 of you can work together and help me finish this task."

  4. My helper used to tell Dumpling "can you please ...." and Dumpling would just say no or ignore her. I pointed out to my helper that if she were to leave Dumpling the option, of course she can say "no" right? LOL. I use a mix. These days she is very cheeky. Sometimes will feign ignorance s I gotta be at eye level and literally be in face before she responds. Grrrrr

    1. Stare them into their eyes and say "Do you understand what I am trying to tell you to do?????!!!!!" LOL I even turn his head to face me, look at me eye to eye and I repeat what i have told him minutes ago.

  5. When my kids where small and in toddlerhood I would use what you classify as stern. It's 7 time to brush your teeth and then I would go back with them to help with brushing of the teeth. We didn't discuss if they wanted to, I didn't ask them if they wanted to but I also went with them to do the activity. At that age they where being trained. You can't expect anything from a child if they haven't been trained to do what you are asking them to do. I call it good parenting.

    1. Yupe, training should start young. Now I can get him going with lesser words and in better state of mind.

  6. So true! I only "ask" when the choice is my son's, and provide a polite command when there's no choice. We learned this the hard way!

    1. Me too! In the earlier days. I got upset with him, with myself, with every thing! So glad that the days are getting easier and better now that he is older.