How to talk to kids so they RESPOND!

Are you wondering how you can connect more deeply with your child?

Would you like to know
how to talk to kids using peaceful conflict resolution strategies to ease tension, or calm aggressive behavior in your children?

Often, we can be triggered by our own unresolved traumas - big and small - and this can make it extremely challenging to remain compassionate as we confront our kid's BIG, explosive emotions.

I had a communication class member write in and share her son's feelings (see below) on the shift she is making towards being more inviting and kind communication. Kids are GREAT for reminding us when we veer from the path.

"What my son said about Lori Petro and TEACH through Love"

"Mom, why aren't you doing what that lady said on the phone call?"

Ouch. But thankfully I have had enough self-care to let go of self-criticism and hear him.

"Do you know how when you get angry , and hit and bite me, and you just can't seem to stop yourself?"

He nodded. "That's a habit. I have them, too. I'm working hard to change them."

My answer seemed to make sense to him. THEN today: "What my son said about yelling."

"Do you know why I said I was sorry when I yelled at you today?" my son asked. "Because I don't want to yell at you. I want to treat my parents better."

(INSERT big emotion in heart here) "We are both trying really hard to speak to each other kindly," I said."

YES!! Love - Connection - Repair.  Your kids feel it and RESPOND to it!!

The biggest challenge to using the kind of respectful language that you want our kids to emulate is your own patterns of behavior and habits of reacting, which are based on FEAR.

That emotional baggage that you carry around can be unzipped without your consent or awareness. Then, you unleash unrestrained emotions and actions driven by automatic unconscious memories and feelings.

Your past can trip you up, triggering you into reactionary patterns, and causing you to get stuck in a cycle of disrespect, defiance and demands. 

If you had a punitive childhood -- 

Can you think back to a time when you were younger, smaller, less experienced - maybe sometime in the first 10-15 years of life - when you were judged for your behavior, or maybe punished, shamed or isolated? 

Maybe it was a time you felt unheard as you tried to explain your thought process or anxious or angry as you tried to get what you needed.

What did it feel like to be evaluated, and told that you were naughty, ungrateful, a mess, trouble, or that you would suffer the consequences or be isolated from peers, family or activities you loved if you did not listen? 

What parts of your body are awakened when you let those emotions surface now?

Now, what would it have felt like if the adults in your life had...

  •  held the limits firmly and with compassion and non-judgment for your less than experienced ways?
  • calmed their anger and approached you with an honest intention to help rather than control or convince?
  • maintained tolerance for your youthful curiosity and patience for your unskilled demands and bargaining?

What would it be like if we could spend the first 20 years of our lives hearing that we were doing our best? Try these "connecting words" instead.

So I asked my daughter (7)
, "If you saw a boy sitting on the floor in the store -- what would you think?"

"That he was waiting." She responded very matter-of-fact, as if it were obvious.

[Great idea - start there with an OBSERVATION.]

Then I asked: "Why do you think he chose to sit on the floor?"

Without hesitation, "Because he was tired... or BORED!"

[Ahh - makes sense! Both are valid FEELINGS representing real honest NEEDS.]

How would she handle it I wondered? So I probed further, "And what would you say if you wanted him to get up?"

Dancing around the kitchen table "I'd say, Come on come on - it's time to get moving and groovin you silly billy!"

That's it! Offer help via respectful invitations. Try PLAY! Of course! Make it fun - be approachable - try to understand rather than rule.

When we feel understood, we can hear and process NEW information.

It's not about scripts, exact words, or all-or-nothing choices, nor should our goal be "making kids obey."

It's not that you say these EXACT words or even ALL the words - but that you go in with the attitude and intention of the Connecting Words rather than the attitude and intention of the Disconnecting Words.

I witnessed the situation (just above on the left-hand side) twice in the past week. It is so easy to presume that we know what our kids are intending - to superficially judge their decisions as "wrong" and want to dominate their behaviors.

Whenever you go in with the attitude of "you're wrong" - in return you are likely to receive defensiveness.

Assumptions (right or wrong) tend to cause the other person to shut down to anything you have to say after that because no one likes to be accused of being "wrong."

Even when they are "wrong" - compassionate requests are more likely to get you heard.

Fear gives us an easy - seemingly negligible - tool to use for obedience. A raised eyebrow coupled with a certain tone -- "growly" as my daughter's favorite book character "Junie B Jones" would say -- are effective sometimes, but only SOMETIMES.

Ultimately, fear keeps us focused on the outcome - it leads us to want to control behavior so we can feel better faster but what does that teach kids about the world?

  • that others can influence our behavior (rather than lead us to reflect on how our behavior has affected others).

  • that it is okay to use our power to dominate others.

  • that it doesn't matter what we think or feel - we simply must obey.

Consciously parenting is about THINKING in new ways - in ways that build your relationship, because when you do your kids will WANT to cooperate with your requests. Click here to give your child the gift of peaceful conflict resolution skills >> go NOW!

When you communicate respectfully,
your children will learn to do the same!

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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