Today marks a new day in how I interact with my kids. I've been trying to understand what is going on with my kids...as they grow older (and develop mentally) they are seem to be harder to communicate with.
First, they take everything you say to either be very literal, react to what you say, or not react at all. I looked up several different types of studies from AACAP (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry) and especially about Oppositional Defiant Disorder. I have been listening to several different psychologists and one is especially interesting based on the Rational emotive behavior therapy or Rebt theory. Basically, it comes down to treating children as an individual and not as puppets to manipulate. You are aware they have feelings and take that into consideration when talking to the child, and restating what you want the child to do.
There was a lot of yelling and not listening this weekend. My feeling is it was because we were not communicating as we would with a friend. I think families do this because we live together and are close (and sometimes, even if we live separately), or just take for granite that we have difference of opinions, etc.
It basically came down to 3 different things to do when responding to a defiant child or just about any age, really.
1. Don't get involved in the argument. It is draining and it will take away any sense of being the grown up/mature person.
2. Address the child by name, restate what they have said (such as, I hear you are angry) and then state what you need for them to do. Repeat this until the child understands.
3. Help the child to make yes statements instead of no. I liked what Dr. Anthony Kane says in his youtube video called patterns of listening behavior.
Obviously, if there is a serious issue, going to a therapist is very important and seeing about getting some strategies to work through skills one may lack or if there are more serious issues. That is probably key to what I learned this morning. Most of the time, it is skills the child is lacking (as well as the grown up). Once you can figure out what skills are missing, you can practice them and get better at relating with people. I love the realization that you can try again...not to feel you have failed but learn and try again.
I already saw a big difference this morning with my kids. I realized I wasn't communicating with them and they thought when I asked them to do something, they needed to stop what they are doing and do so immediately. So, what I said differently was, After breakfast, make your beds. I didn't get one frown or no. A nod and yes. :) I also did the yes statement, Would you like a pop tart for breakfast? yes Once you take your shower, you can have one. That worked like a charm too! Little things do make a very big difference and moods were very pleasant. Just need to keep practicing this until it's a habit for mama.