"Are you even listening to me?" What parent hasn't ever said this, or certainly thought it, when attempting to communicate with a child? But parents often err by talking with their children when their child is not in an emotional state that will allow listening and thinking logically and rationally. In other words, they're being kids.
What can parents do to reason with children?
* Don't waste words during times of emotion.
It's tough for anyone to listen and heed advice or direction during emotional times, and especially for children. When parents try and talk with their child when either side is emotion, the common result is more likely that the message remembered is the emotions themselves rather than the message. Parents should remember their child's age and maturity, and depending on the issue at hand, it is sometimes better to let emotions settle and more mature conversation to occur at a better time. Of course, this advice is not applicable if the situation is one involving bodily harm or health.
* The cliche "Actions Speak Louder Than Words" is Really True.
Replacing angry or emotional responses with soft words and action better teaches children to think before they act and allows parents to be more in control.
For example, a parent might say: "If you pick up your toys right now and go brush your teeth, we'll watch a movie together afterward. Otherwise, it's bedtime in five minutes." If the child does not take the appropriate action within the time allotted, be prepared to take your child to bed.
The next morning at breakfast, a parent might suggest that if the child picks up his toys and brushes his teeth immediately when asked, he would again be given the opportunity to watch a video together. The best time for reason is when both child and adult are in a happy setting. This is when the best thinking and learning can take place.