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Trying to get kids to listen? Talk like you’re Tweeting…

Part of raising responsible adults is having to act as the disciplinarian in order for kids to learn appropriate ways to behave. Let’s get on the same page on what “discipline” means. For my dedicated readers, you may have seen a previous article defining this:

“Discipline” is defined in modern dictionaries as:

  • Develop behavior by instruction and practice, especially to teach self-control and/or improves skills

  • Punish in order to gain control or enforce obedience

I think we can all agree that instruction and practice are more desired then punishment. I don’t think any parent enjoys the role of being a disciplinarian when we have to pull rank. Here’s a method that helps kids listen to us the first time: Say things ONCE, with as few words as possible (talk like your tweeting). Demonstration what you need done with your own behavior and let natural consequences take their course.

You know how adults in Charlie Brown sound like “wah wah wah, wah wah?” I have no doubt when we lecture our kids, that same sound is how they hear us. And if you are anything like me, it’s soooooo easy to go down the lecture route.

Does this sound familiar?

  • "Time to get our shoes on or we will be late for school. Hmmmm, your shoes are still not on, and we will be leaving in 5 minutes. Why are you doing? You should be putting on your shoes. SIGH… IF YOU DON’T GET YOUR SHOES ON NOW, WE WILL BE LATE, IF WE ARE LATE, HOW MANY TIMES DO WE HAVE TO GO THROUGH THIS?... WAH WAH WAH, WAH WAH….”

  • “Please help me set the table. I’m not sure you heard me, please set the table. I need the table set now because dinner will be served in 5 minutes. If you don’t set the table, we won’t be able to eat on time. WE GO THROUGH THIS EVERYNIGHT, I COOK… WAH WAH WAH, WAH WAH….”

The reframing can be used for children as young as three; however, are typically more appropriate for 5-12 year olds based on the scenarios.

  • Let your words explain the situation (in as little words as possible, talk like your tweeting)

  • Let your actions demonstrate the behavior

  • Let the consequence teach lesson

To maintain our patience and avoid lecturing (which initially feels sooooo good and begins to vent our frustration), try to catch yourself and think “talk like I’m tweeting.” Use as little words as possible in a kind voice.

“Please put your shoes on, the car will be leaving in 5 minutes.” If they don’t put them - leave. If that’s not an option, put the shoes and your child in the car - and leave.

“Please help me set the table, dinner is ready in 5 minutes.” If the table isn’t set, don’t serve dinner until it is set.

Let the consequences teach the lesson. Talk to you kids like you are tweeting as few words as possible. It only takes a few unpleasant experiences for your kids to quickly learn the lesson without the WAH WAH WAH…. Tweet!