Most parenting books tell us that ' Talking does not help " , and I agree with them but my reasons are rather different. The books describe parenting as war between parents and kids , a power struggle , kids testing limits and boundaries , where one side wins and the other loses. In this war – a united front is so important. Talking does not help because will manipulate you , play one parent against the other , get you angry , and then get you to give in. So the advice is – look them straight in the face , ignore what they are saying and repeat your instructions in an assertive way. All you say 1,2,3 magic !!! and you have got compliance – if not you impose a consequence. Now the books avoid telling you about the power struggles involved in trying to impose the consequence.
Talking does not help if parents do the talking. Talking helps when it is the kids who are doing the talking and we the listening directing the conversation with dialog questions. We can help them reflect on the impact of their behavior on others , take their perspectives, identify concerns and goals and participate in collaborative problem solving.
Before we start the Plan B = collaborative problem solving process we need to enter the child's world and connect with him and engage in conversation and dialog about something he is doing or interested in or even sharing some general chatting about yourself , we need to try and see the world from the eyes of the child , as a person who does have legitimate concerns and needs.
The art of conversation is in the listening , and being a good listener depends on knowing how the ask dialog questions. Asking questions is the basis of all conversation , social interactions, learning and thinking , we ask people questions , we ask ourselves questions and act on our perceptions.
Children will talk to their parents when they are older if their parents talked to them when they were small. Consulting with kids , asking them questions etc gives them a voice , lets them know that their opinions count. This is what respect is all about , giving them a voice. A leading spiritual guide said ' what kids need from their parents more than love is respect .
We can love our kids , being dedicated to their welfare and sacrifice for their welfare but if we do not know them , we don't know how they feel , what they think , what they like , who are their friends , their fears , hopes etc we are loving a virtual child , a child who will grow up living a parent's life without any expectations and goals of his own.
Talk less, ask more.
Telling is better than yelling, and explaining is better than just telling, but sometimes eliciting (the child's feelings, ideas, and preferences) is even better than explaining. - Alfie Kohn
There is an old Chinese proverb
Tell me, I forget.
Teach me, I remember
Involve me, I understand.
Myrna Shure has many books that teach the skill of dialog questions essential for problem solving