Mom and Buried sent me a link to a parenting article, as moms do. After promising her I’d read it and then lying that I’d read it! (as dads do!), I quickly went back and actually read it. It was kind of difficult to focus, though, what with all the eye-rolling.
Parenting articles can be frustrating to read, despite the fact that they often contain some truly useful suggestions. All parenting advice is great in theory and in a vacuum; that’s why non-parents love dishing it out.
Of course, in real life situations, with real life sociopathic children and real life at-the-end-of-their-rope parents, it’s not long before your best laid plans explode in your face.
Which is exactly what makes this kind of parenting advice so easy to mock.
The article is called “25 Ways to Talk So Children Will Listen” and it’s a long list – twenty-five! – of techniques to apparently memorize and enact when attempting to get your defiant child to understand and obey you. As parenting advice goes, it’s not bad, especially if you enjoy really long lists of stuff that you’ll put into practice once and then quickly forget the second time your four-year-old threatens to spit on you. It’s helpful to take it with a grain of salt.
Let me help.
25 Ways to Talk So Children Will Listen
(original list content in italics; Dad and Buried’s grains of salt in plain text)
- Connect Before You Direct
Get your child’s attention with a quick game of Connect Four. Then explain that his humiliating loss was a valuable life lesson.
- Address The Child
Do you have a label-maker? Good. Now print out your child’s address and stick it on his forehead. My son’s forehead lives “Up His Ass.”
- Stay Brief
Personally I prefer boxers, but whatever puts you in a disciplinary sort of mood!
- Stay Simple
M-o-o-n, that spells time-out!
- Ask Your Child to Repeat the Request Back to You
Make sure you say “Simon Says” first.
- Make an offer the child can’t refuse
If your child doesn’t own an expensive thoroughbred, the head of his favorite LEGO toy will suffice. Wet some red Play-doh and smear it all over the bed to simulate the blood.
- Be Positive
This may require a few drinks.
- Begin your Directives With “I want.”
Better yet, make a vision board with pictures of your kid sleeping, and reading, and doing chores, and sleeping.
- “When… Then.”
E.g., “When your work is finished, then you can watch TV.”
“I know building iPhones is hard, but it’s just as hard for Daddy to sit through Team Umizoomi!”
- Legs First, Mouth Second
I don’t know about you, but I’m not teaching my son about foreplay at this age! He’s only four!
- Give Choices
“Do you want to throw your food at me or do you want to throw your toy at me?”
- Speak Developmentally Correctly
I’m assuming this means no swearing?
- Speak Socially Correctly
I’m assuming this means no swearing?
- Speak Psychologically Correctly
Give me a fucking break.
- Write It
This is even better if your kid can’t read yet. Anything goes! I wrote out the entire lyrics to Guns ‘n Roses’ “Get in the Ring” and then told him it said “No dessert unless we eat dinner.”
- Talk The Child Down
The louder your child yells, the softer you respond.
Possibly my favorite one, because it sounds like a hilarious way to taunt someone, plus, there’s an excellent chance it will end in a rousing performance of “Shout”.
- Settle The Listener
I wish this said “sell the listener.”
- Replay Your Message
Just what my house needs, more repetition.
- Let Your Child Complete The Thought
(Only applies if you have six extra hours to spare.)
- Use Rhyme Rules
“If you hit, you must sit.”
Did I mention that Johnny Cochrane wrote this?
- Give Likable Alternatives
You can’t go by yourself to the park; but you can play in the neighbor’s yard.
And eat dinner at the neighbor’s. And sleep over at the neighbor’s. And have the neighbors call us if there are any issues; we’ll be in the Bahamas for a while. Have fun!
- Give Advance Notice
E.g., “We are leaving soon. Say bye-bye to the toys, bye-bye to the girls…”
Say bye-bye to your dignity…
- Open Up a Closed Child
Stick to topics that you know your child gets excited about.
Not entirely sure how talking about superheroes or pizza is going to get him to brush his teeth, but I’ll try anything once!
- Use “When You…I Feel…Because…”
E.g., When you run away from mommy in the store I feel worried because you might get lost.
And then I feel guilty for briefly fantasizing about it.
- Close The Discussion
If a matter is really closed to discussion, say so. “I’m not changing my mind about this. Sorry.”
Then see how long you can tolerate the screams before you do finally change your mind about that.
Read Dr. Sears’ original list – that really does have some decent tips! – here.