Better Communication, Better Behavior
Make Your Messages Positive
Children believe what their parents tell them. If you tell your child that she will never learn to listen, that’s what she’ll believe, and she will act accordingly. However, if you tell your child that you know she can learn to listen and obey, she’ll want to prove you right. “Plant the idea that they can do what you ask,” says Dr. Severe. They will learn to live up to your expectations.
Also, catch your child being good as often as possible. If your children constantly argue over toys, praise them every time they share and play together nicely. The more you encourage your child to behave properly, the more he will want to please you. “Most kids want to do what’s right most of the time,” says Dr. Severe. Focus on the positive, and you should see those behaviors more often.
Model Good Behavior
Every parent wants her child to obey her the first time he or she is asked. But how often do we as parents tell our children “just a minute” or hear them without really listening? Dr. Severe says, “If you want your child to be a good listener, then be a good listener yourself.” You must model this behavior for them. Whenever possible, put down what you are doing, make eye contact with your child, and really listen to what he is saying. Not only will it teach him to do the same for you, it will also build his self-esteem and make him feel valued.
Play it Back
It helps to have your child repeat back what you have asked her to do. Say, “We are going to the park to play, but we can only stay for 30 minutes. When I tell you that it’s time to leave, you need to come with me right away. Now tell me what I want you to do at the park.” Your child should repeat your instructions back to you. This ensures that she understands what is expected of her.
Keep Your Expectations Realistic
Remember that your child is still a child. Toddlers and preschoolers especially need a lot of your time and attention. It is not bad behavior for a two- or three-year-old to ask for your help. Also, remember that change takes time. Remain positive and consistent, and you will see improvements in your child’s behavior.
Learning to communicate effectively with your child is a crucial first step in getting your child to comply with your requests. With patience and practice, your communication skills will improve, and so will your child’s behavior.
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