There are many sources of stress, anxiety, and fear for our kids these days, such as having limited access to their friends, attending classes online rather than in their schools, or spending more time cooped up at home with their parents. Understandably, all of this can lead to increased arguing and manipulation by kids.
How do wise parents and educators respond when kids try to argue and manipulate? The most effective repeat an empathetic one-liner such as, “I love/respect you too much to argue” or “I know” or “What did I say?” They also resist the urge to think too deeply about what the child is saying.
Should we do this when kids are hurting, or they are understandably frustrated? Do we employ this strategy when they’re respectfully expressing their opinions? No! We listen.
When I ask people to describe the parents and teachers, they respected the most as kids, they almost always mention something like, “They were always there to listen.”
Listening means love.
It means that we sincerely care about other’s opinions and emotions.
Here’s the problem: Many of us have a hard time listening when someone around us is emotional or is disagreeing with us. That’s why it’s helpful to have a few sincere statements or questions in our back pockets:
- Tell me more.
- Help me understand.
- What would you like to see here?
- How long have you felt this way?
The next time one of your kids expresses their opinion, their frustration, or their pain, be sure to lend a sincere, empathetic ear and show loving interest by using the points above. When we listen, respond with empathy, and ask permission to share our thoughts rather than spouting off, most kids will be open to listening to us.
Remember: The more you listen to them, the more likely they’ll listen to you. If their tone turns disrespectful or manipulative, you can always switch gears and repeat, “I love/respect you too much to argue” or “I’ll listen when your voice sounds calm like mine.”
If you kids are acting particularly stubborn or defiant, you might benefit from our webinar, Success with Strong-Willed, Stubborn or Downright Defiant Kids.
Thanks for reading!