Changing The Outcomes Of Conversations With Your Children
This might sound all too familiar: You begin a conversation with your child about an expectation or a request and it’s met with an explosive response or a refusal to do what you’ve asked. If you are like many parents in this situation, you may react to your child’s defiance with a reactive response of ‘how dare you speak to me that way’ and then follow up with a consequence. Often, this is the start of a vicious cycle. Meltdowns, followed by more threats of taking things away ensue. Suddenly you realize that you have ended up miles away from where you’d intended.
With Natural Strength Parenting™, you can change the outcome of a conversation with your child by being intentional, leaning into your strengths (and theirs), and being mindful about your expectations and their reactions. This approach can work whether they are two or a teen. Ready for a few simple steps to help you change the outcomes of conversations you have with your children?
- When there is a reoccurrence of defiant dialogue, partner with your child in problem-solving. This approach offers them the opportunity to learn emotional self-regulation. Try saying something like this; “A lot of times we have a problem talking about chores that need to get done. What do think we can do to avoid the frustration and anger we both end up feeling?” This intentional approach reframes the dialogue and puts the solution, not the problem, in focus.
- Show appreciation and empathy. Being mindful of your child’s feelings can help defuse potentially volatile situations. Try saying; “I understand not wanting to clean up your room. I don’t like cleaning either”. This does not mean your child does not have to do their chores. Instead, you align with them and they get to hear that you understand their feelings.
- Power struggles happen when the conversation is centered around what needs to get done. Change the conversation from a threat to a more positive outcome. The shift can be from something that sounds like this; “If you don’t clean your room, you can’t go out and play” to something more like this; “When you get your room cleaned, you’ll get to do your favorite thing and play outside. What do you think you’ll do? Ride your bike?”
- Be playful. This eases the stress for both parent and child. Try making chores “fun” by saying something like this; “Make like the wind and let’s see who gets their dirty clothes to the laundry room first”. You can also try reminding them of things that they enjoy. “I know that listening to music while you work always makes chores go faster”. Pairing something they love with something they may not want to do can make the time go quicker and easier.
- Focus on their strengths. Just like you, your child possesses their own unique strengths. Lean into those strengths to help them accomplish little tasks and big challenges. Try this; “You are so creative. How can you use your creativity to help get through something you are not very excited about doing? I’d love to hear some of your ideas. I may even try some of them myself!”
By taking a proactive approach to conversations, even unpleasant ones, you can get to the outcome you desire. You are still in charge, they learn to hold themselves accountable, and you can celebrate what’s going well instead of punishing what is not.