I just met with one of my colleagues, a parent educator like myself, and I was asking her for a good topic for my next post. She suggested that I write about my favorite parenting techniques. I told her it wasn’t a good idea; I have too many “favorite parenting techniques.” She then suggested that I just write the first three effective techniques that come to mind.
Well, that works! Here are the first three of my favorite parenting techniques that come to mind!
1. Using one word:
The most effecting parenting tools that I use (and teach) come from Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish’s book, “How To Talk So Kids Will Listen.” I know that if you are a regular reader of my blog, you will not be surprised, because I quote them often.
Faber and Mazlish suggest using just one word or a brief phrase, instead of long drawn out lectures to engage your child’s cooperation. It works like this:
Instead of saying: “Will you move away from the stove while the rice is cooking! How many times have I told you not to go near the stove when I am cooking!”
You can just say: “The Stove!” or “Hot Stove!”
Using just one word or a short phrase saves time and energy. And an added bonus: it teaches kids to use the skills of intuition; it helps them think and moves them to act on their own.
Kids might think: “She is saying “the stove! What is she talking about? Oh, I am too close to the stove and she is cooking. That is dangerous. I better move away.”
I love this because although you might sound a bit strange, my kids usually make fun of the one word technique, you sound a lot more dignified, and you get a lot more cooperation then if you were lecturing.
2. Be empathetic above all:
The other day I was working at a coffee shop, near my home. A group of young moms with babies and pre-schoolers were sitting right next to me. One of the pre-schoolers started to have a temper tantrum. (I do have to say that I really don’t like analyzing moms’ conversations with their kids in public places, because meltdowns are so impossible to handle at home and even more difficult when you have an audience, but I was writing this article and their conversation would just illustrate my point perfectly!)
As the mom gathered her daughter up to get her out of there she tried to comfort her child and the ensuing dialogue sounded like this:
Mom: Why are you crying?
Girl: My muffin fell. I want my muffin.
Mom: But you weren’t even eating the muffin- you were just playing with it…
Girl: I want it!
Mom: Do you want to go home?
Girl: No, I don’t like my home.
Mom: You don’t like your home? How can you not like your home? That’s silly!
Girl: “I don’t like it! I don’t want to go home.”
When kids are melting down, it’s usually best not to engage them in conversation, ask them questions or take anything they say at face value. It is just best to deliver empathy. It would sound more like this:
“You’re sad that your muffin fell. It’s making you cry so hard. Even though you were done eating it, you liked knowing it was there.
“Let’s start heading home…you don’t want to go home. You’d rather stay here, even though you are crying and we can’t stay here while you are crying, you would still like to stay. Even though, you usually like our house, with our toys and your comfy bed, right now you like it here better”…etc.
Being empathetic helps you remain calm and in control and, if you are lucky, it actually gets your child to calm down as well.
3. Turning statements into questions:
I love this technique because it makes kids think, it engages kids’ cooperation in a respectful way and it helps parents avoid power struggles.
It sounds like this:
Instead of: “You should share your toys.”
Try this: “When do you think you would be able to share your truck?”
Instead of: “Get your coat on!”
Try this: “The temperature outside is 40 degrees. What coat do you think would work best?”
Instead of: “Do your homework now!”
Try this: “Where is the best place for you to get your homework done?”
There you have it! Off the top of my head—my three favorite parenting techniques.