Writing on this subject is the most difficult. You will find that most “serious” communication between parent and kids start with sudden, strong or contradictory emotions and end with sudden, strong or contradictory emotions. Both parents and kids contribute to the situation by shouting, saying hurtful words, throwing objects across the room, crying, sulking and so forth. If there are major problems and the majority of your conversations begin and end with these behaviors and emotions, you may find that professional help needs to be employed. A woman told me that her husband and her son have the same personalities. They argue/fight most of the time seeing who is going to win. Usually one of the “boys” yells, slams a door and leaves the house….thus, the end of the conversation. She analyzed it that both dad & son are behaving like “kids” – throw a temper tamper – and runs away from home. The mom is now running around trying to get the dad and son together again. Sound familiar?
Here is the important thing: adults need to be adults when communicating with their kids. As a parent, you can not get down to the level of the kids by yelling back at them; throwing things across the room; crying, sulking, spanking, sending them to their room out of anger. You are demonstrating all of those undeveloped actions that a kid have in their communication style is approved. As we know, this is what the majority of parents do. Kids are depending upon you to put some sense into their growing lives. You are the teacher and your kids are listening and watching you even if you do not think they are. So what do you do in this situation?
First of all
* Recognize everyone is rolling on emotions and going no where.
Second of all
* Call a halt to the emotional outburst
Third of all
* Call “quiet time” for everyone, including parents. Just announce we are taking a 1-2 minute break. Everyone stays in the room and sits quietly.
Fourth of all
* Kids love “timers”. Get a timer and explain the kid will have one minute to say whatever they want to say about the issue. When the timer rings, it is mommy or daddy’s time to say whatever they want to say about the issue within one minute. After everyone has a turn, then the parent repeat what the kid has said and ask if the kid wants to change anything. If necessary, let the kid repeat what the parents said. It is important not to give the kid as much power as the parent has in solving the problem. So, keep control of the communication.
Fifth of all
* Once you start this procedure, do not turn loose of it even if you have to stop and start all over again.
By the way, parents always win in a conflict situation with kids because you are the parent. I have seen parents show “bully” behavior in disciplining their kids even in restaurants and other public places. There is nothing that disturbs me more than eating out in a restaurant, even if it is McDonald’s, and I do not notice when kids misbehave; however I do notice when parents start yelling at the kid in anger, jerks the kid around while still yelling and sometimes a spank on the “behind” or a slap across the back of the head.
We parents have to teach our kids how to behave. Do the kids really learn when they have a out-of-control parent yelling at them and hurting them? We teach our kids “do not hit” other people; however, when they misbehave sometimes one of the first thing we do is “hit” the kid through spanking. Does that make sense? Kids throw temper tampers and when the parents are having temper tampers as well it is a lose-lose situation for everyone.
As an illustration: I was visiting the home of a stay-at-home mom who had a 3 year old and a 6 month old. The mom was having a “bad-hair” day and the baby started crying. The 3 year old went to her mom who was in the kitchen trying to fix dinner and said, “Mommy, the baby is crying you’ve got to come.” The mom said loudly “I know, I can hear and I’m busy.” The 3 year old said, “Mom, be patient”. Don’t underestimate what your kids are learning from you. I heard throughout the day the mom saying to the 3 year old, “You have to be patient; I’m taking care of the baby.” It was natural for the 3 year old to repeat to the mom what had been said to her throughout the day. This “Subtle Listening Clue” is a little strange when adapting it to communicating with your kids. You don’t have to listen for this particular clue; it is there and it is loud. What is needed is for you to keep your cool and figure out what questions may be appropriate.
* “When you finish yelling, screaming and crying you are to sit down quietly so we can talk, will you do this for mommy (or daddy)?” If they say “no”, tell them they have to do it anyway; but ask them first if they are willing to sit quietly and talk. This will give you a clue on your next action.
* “Why were you screaming and yelling?” We would always ask my grandson when he was about 3-4 years old why he was screaming and yelling. His answer was always “I don’t know; my brain told me too; I didn’t want to!” That has to be my all-time favorite quote from a kid in a response to “why did you do that”. He used that quote for so many situations he got himself into and a lot of times, it worked. I asked him one time, “How can we teach your brain not to do that”? He said, “Good luck, grandma, my brain has a mind of its own”. True story. This is why I love communicating with kids because I think it is fun to carefully listen to what they are saying and he said it all, didn’t he?
* “Do you think it helps when you scream and yell?” Watch it when you ask this question because kids may say something like “I see you scream and yell and it works”. Ugh, that’s not what you want to hear, is it?
* “How can we learn when to yell and scream and when not to yell and scream?” Remember it is important that you want to teach the kids to yell and scream if a stranger bothers them or tries to takes them. Make the distinction with the kids of when it is appropriate to yell and scream and when it is not appropriate.