As you're trying to pay the bills, your little one starts getting anxious. You patiently tell him, "Remember, we can go to the park once I've paid all the bills." But instead, your toddler won't leave you to your business and tries to crawl into your lap to type on your computer, pull pens down from your desk, and prevent you from accomplishing your task at hand. It soon becomes obvious that no bills will be paid right now. Frustrated, you wonder, "How can I tell my child how disappointed I am?" and you find yourself yelling, "Couldn't you just wait ten minutes? I was almost finished!"
There is a more effective way to communicate—a better way to get your point across. And there's no need to raise your voice or place fault. The answer is to practice expressive and receptive communication. When you voice your thoughts and feelings, you are using expressive communication; and when your feelings are understood, you are experiencing receptive communication.
An important expressive communication technique to use with your children is called an "I-message." There are three parts to an I-message: I feel, when, and because.
In our situation of an impatient toddler wanting to go to the park NOW, your use of an I-message might sound something like this (note the use of the three key words): "I feel frustrated when you interrupt my work because I need to finish before we can go to the park."
Why is an I-message an effective means of communicating, especially with your child? Because it keeps the focus on you. These are your feelings, that's all. An I-message doesn't place blame on anyone. Instead, it is a simple statement of your view on a certain situation.
Accentuate the Positive
Another way to communicate more successfully with your child is to phrase things positively. Try to stop using the words No and Don't when talking to your children.
Instead of saying, "Don't throw your toys on the floor," try, "Those toys belongs in your toy box." Although it seems like a small difference, your wording can have a big impact on how your child reacts to you and interacts with others.