Changing the Environment and Increasing The Impact of What You Are
Instructing Your Kid
I saw it just the other day: a dutiful dad was taking his two children out to a family affair. He did what most parents don’t do: explain behavioral expectations ahead of time. I was pretty impressed. The kids were messing with their best friend (a tablet with a video game continuously playing) when he announced, “Kids….. kids….. Kids! Listen to me!” They paused their game and peered over their electronic best buddy and appeared to temporarily pay attention. He gave them good, short expectations of behavior and concluded. Fortunately, both these kids are spirited but well behaved. Things turned out fine. HOWEVER, there is a thing to do that increases the likelihood that children will follow instructions. Read the essay before this one about explaining your expectations. Secondly, and almost as importantly: change the environment for your quick little meeting.
It doesn’t have to be dramatic, just go somewhere else to talk to your kid. When you briefly explain your expectations prior to the event AND move around a little, you often will command a kid’s attention. It’s very simple and surprisingly effective. Here are a couple of examples:
● Drive to the store with your kids. Wait until y’all are out of the car and almost in the store and announce you need to tell them something quickly. See the essay before this one for “The Meeting” ideas. [ http://www.johnsommercounseling.com/blog/shopping-with-children-the-curse-of-the-cereal-aisle ]
● You need to discuss the amazingly low grade on your child’s math test. Calmly say something like: “Let’s talk about it for a minute”. Then sit down in the empty kitchen and chat.
● Your kid screwed up on curfew by an hour. You greet her, tell her you were worried about her, and when she begins her reasons/excuses, gently tell her it would be better to discuss it tomorrow morning. After breakfast, you move into the living room for the discussion.
Who wants to repeat themselves a bunch of times to be listened to? Who wants to repeat themselves a bunch of times to be listened to? Not me, boss.
Is what you have to say important? If so, deliver it in kid-smart fashion.