Tuesday, September 8, 2015

How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen, the O.H.M. Way

There's SO much parenting advice out there on how to talk so your kids will listen (and listen so they'll talk). My kids already talk too much, so this post--O.H.M.'s 700th--is about the listening part of that equation.

Studies show that the way we speak to our children and the behavior we model for them has a critical impact on their development. I think there might even be one or two books on this topic. 

I wouldn't know of course, I haven't read any. That's because I already have all the answers--and now you will too. Proudly presenting O.H.M.'s official primer on "how to talk so your kids will listen.":

1. Use your child's name: Repeat your child's name over and over again as they continue to ignore you. With each repetition, raise your voice by ten-decibel increments until your kids come to view the sound of their own name as irritating but tolerable white noise, and you come to view it as a futile incantation that you regret having assigned to them at birth.

2. Make eye contact: Get down to their level, and stare deeply into their eyes. Hold them gently but firmly by the shoulders and whisper softly and mellifluously: "I brought you into this world, and I can take you out of it. Never forget that."

3. Deploy empty threats: I've blogged before on the oft-utilized but highly underrated empty threat, and it remains as sharp a tool as ever. Don't be afraid to sprinkle empty threats about like so many handfuls of glitter: No iPad; No sleepovers; No dessert; etc. And be sure to set a reasonable time-frame on the execution and duration of these threats. "For the rest of your life" works well.  In short, threaten to take away anything that you know you never will, because its revocation ultimately makes your life harder, and the path of least resistance is always the best path--in parenting as in life.

4. Beg and appeal to their conscience: Beg them to comply by pleading in a very sad and manipulative voice. Try to make them feel guilty for not listening. Say stuff like, "you're hurting my feelings,"; and "it's really, really mean the way you never listen to me,"; and "if you really loved me, you'd do what I say."

5. Try hypnosis: About an hour after they fall asleep for the night, tiptoe into their rooms, shove their stuffed animals aside, and whisper into their ears: "You will respect my authority. You will respect my authority. You will respect my authority," over and over again in the hopes that the message seeps into their subconscious while they're in a particularly susceptible part of their sleep cycle.

6. Scare them into compliance with an evil alter-ego: Feign multiple personality disorder, adopting the character of a villain from their latest book or movie interest. When they're being particularly obstinate, say something like, "Oh, we don't want Mother Gothel [evil witch mother from Disney's most recent Rapunzel movie] to come out now, do we?," and stare vacantly into space while frowning oddly.

7. Nag mercilessly: If all else fails, try outright nagging. This time-honored tradition has been handed down through generations, and has proven a highly effective listening tactic, particularly for tasks like piano-practicing and room-cleaning.

8. Listen: Above all, LISTEN to your children. You can't expect your kids to listen if you don't take the time to listen yourself. When you're done listening, they very likely still will not have listened to you whatsoever. That's when you tell them: "Because I said so, that's why."

Photo: PBS

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