When your kids are not listening, do you have any idea why? Maybe you feel like you are the only one listening to yourself when you are talking to them about something you feel is very important.
Let’s be honest, if you are doing a lot of talking, they may very well NOT be listening. They may have all of your “sermons” memorized. So when you turn on the message, they are tuning you out.
If your parenting has become an endless succession of sermonettes or monologues that you play over and over again, hoping that they finally get what you are saying and take it to heart, then chances are very good that what you are saying is not truly being heard.
If you find yourself preaching at your kids, talking more than listening, and using monologues more than dialogues, here’s what you must do to engage them in conversation so that they are actually listening to what you have to say.
Use open-ended questions more than threats, cliques, and rules.
Just because your kids can quote what you are going to say before you say it every time you start to lecture does not mean they are taking it to heart. It may just mean that it has become meaningless drivel to them.
Instead of giving them a speech, try asking a question that cannot be answered with a yes or no.
Did you have trouble with your teacher today at school? This requires a yes or no and nothing more.
How are you getting along with your teacher these days? This requires more than a yes or no.
I think it’s fair to say that wise parents have learned to ask thoughtful questions. Question-asking is a skill that can be learned. Brush up on it and see how it helps deepen your connection with your child.
Use “I” Messages Instead of “You” Messages.
“You” messages tend to blame and will shut off meaningful dialogue.
You are making me very angry right now! This statement places the blame for your anger on your child, when in fact you can choose to react differently.
I feel angry and would like to understand more. This statement lets you take responsibility for your own emotions, and expresses a desire to seek to understand.
Parenting Conversations Should Not Be Hit-and-Run
The goal of your conversations with your child should not be to say your piece and be done. Parents are often so busy and stressed that they deliver the monologue in a rush as they run out the door, drive out the driveway or quickly say it on the phone. Your concern is simply to tell them what you want them to hear.
That is hit-and-run parenting, and it is ineffective for the long-term.
However, when you listen, seek to understand and talk calmly, you are giving your child the time they need to really learn what it is you want them to learn.
Here’s the challenge I’d like to give you: The next time you are delivering a familiar monologue to your child, stop yourself mid-sentence and see if your child can finish the message. If they can, then you might say, “Will you forgive me for talking AT you instead of talking WITH you?”
If you feel like you’ve been a hit-and-run parent and would like to change, please schedule a free consult with me here.