Monday, March 28, 2011

I worry my child will not listen to me when he is in danger. What can I do?

Every parent wants their children to freeze instantly when we yell STOP. We worry that when our children are in peril, they will not respond to us because at times we ask them to do small tasks and they don’t act. If this is happening to you there are ways to communicate so that your children will respond, especially in dangerous moments.

First, make sure you are asking your children to do things (or not do things) with a positive phrase. We instinctively say “don’t ……” because we see our children doing something we don’t want them to. Our mind goes right to the negative. If it is difficult for our adult mind to make the switch from negative to positive, it is even more difficult for our children to make that leap. This means that instead of saying “don’t put your feet on the table,” you ask him to “put your feet on the floor.”

If I were to say “you can’t have ice cream for dinner.” You would have to think about “ice cream” to stop yourself from thinking about ice cream. However, if I say “we are having strawberries for dinner,” ice cream would never enter your mind. The same is true of negative statements. When you tell your children to not slam the door, all that rattles around their head is “slam”. If you were to instead say, “Close the door gently,” the response would be very different. They will be more likely to close it slowly next time and they won’t be fixated on the idea of slamming the door.

If you are using the word “no," “don’t,” or "stop" frequently with your children, the words will begin to lose there true meaning. To your child it begins to sound like background noise. So when they're in danger and you shout a warning, they are less likely to respond.

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