How do you communicate? Are you aware of your body language? your facial expressions? your hand gestures? Maybe your aware of these when you speak to adults or when your in a meeting at work. How about when we communicate with our children? Are we being respectful to them when we ask for respect back? are we taking the time to listen to them when we want them to listen back?
It's easy to get caught up in just wanting our kids to listen the first time and when they don't after the 10 thousandth time we ask something we well understandably...blow up! I'm not here to tell you this is wrong because I'm guilty of doing this (literally as I'm writing this). However I do know this is not the best way to teach our kids or to be the best model....but I'm here to tell you its DAM HARD.
When I was working in large companies going to big important meetings one thing I got good at was my communication....I even trained new hires on communication. I knew how to manage a team and have the emotional intelligence to do so, but when it came to managing my own bunnies at home...not so much. Its hard to remain poised when your tired, dinner still needs to be made, the sink is full of dishes, you haven't sat down in hours, and your starting to feel like your offspring just want to grind you down until there is nothing left. This sounds the perfect ingredients to make for a melt down (and if I may add, not by your child).
Before I get into what works for me let me start by telling you about my Finn... This little boy is extremely seductive but fickle. A fair-weather friend who seems benign but packs a wallop like a donkey kick, and that friends is our Mr. Finn. Don't get me wrong he has all the best personality traits and I cannot wait until he finds his place in this world because I truly feel like it will be a leader somewhere and in all the best ways, but for right now as a challenging 5 year old he just boils my blood. Part of this may be the fact that he is literally me in every way, so its like battling myself x1000... and were not backing down.
Now that you have that knowledge lets get back to communication as our topic. When it comes to managing adults I learned that in a feedback or corrective 1:1 meeting mirroring their personality styles and how they best receive information & process information, resulting in measurable changes. Now this is my method for adults mind you theoretically these are humans with fully developed prefrontal cortexes and can manage their outbursts, emotions, and reactions.... do you remember at the start of this paragraph I mentioned all these skills and structured communication was being conducted in a planned out meeting that was scheduled and both parties were fully aware of and prepared for..... yaaa that's literally never the case with the kiddos right! Having to remain composed and pull out your best communication mom card to deescalate a situation and also try to come out of it like a rock star mom and teacher never ever happens because the worst situations always happen or unplanned and its almost always at the worst times of the day!
So what do we do? were only human... well for starters you walk the heck away. Seriously, unless your child is putting themselves in harms way and you need to physically step in, just walk away. Modeling to take a break is the first thing you just taught your child and its the best chance you will have at not yelling. I know its already 6:30pm and you want child to eat dinner so they are in bed on time at 8pm, but don't worry all that will still happen....again take the moment and walk away. By walking away guess what? you just scheduled that meeting for yourself. Now you know after you grab drinks or serve yourself you have to come back to that situation and work on it together, you are now prepared for it (well somewhat). Now I'm not going to tell you what you should say, what words to use, because I'm not even good at that, however I will tell you what I am good at and that's communication style.
Like adults, children have ways they best receive and process information and like adults they too get defensive, belittled, embarrassed, and offended all feelings that not always come from our words, but more so from our body language and facial expressions. Being mindful of this is especially important with children, because a lot of the time they don't feel like what's important to them is important to us.
Ok so first things first
Sit down!: on the floor or at the table just down to the same level. When your in 1:1 meetings at work your not standing while your employee is sitting or vice versa. That's because no one is above someone else here. We are all here for a common reason and that's to find a solution.
Hands on your lap. I think there is common culture habit of speaking with hands and arms in the air and everywhere, but with children in this situation you want to be the least distracting you can be. These situations are hard for them...its hard for us...everyone involved not comfortable.
Eye contact and nod your head along, children want to feel they have your attention and the most simple and apparent way is to connect in the eyes and as they speak nod to gesture you are receiving the information they are working so hard to share with you.
Last but not least:
Wait your turn to speak. Trust me I know you so want to burst out and say, I KNOW YOU WANT THE BLUE CUP, BUT THE BLUE CUP IS DIRTY IN THE SINK JUST USE THIS ONE, you can to wait while they explain in the long winded version, the same reason you heard 7 times this week on why they need the blue cup. It matters to them so before we start the explaining and convincing to just use the red cup just hear them out.
I promise you my children **cough, cough** Finn **cough, cough** is no where near perfect and we encounter battles daily...and I lose my cool well daily...but I try and I know when I speak to my children in these ways whatever battle we are having improves and a solution is found much faster then they would if I started yelling and they started yelling.
So I raise my glass to all my fellow parents with challenging children, long days, and stressful weeks just remember...everyday brings us at least one bedtime.
With love and lots of bunnies,