What if two words could change the negative interactions you have with your kids?
You know what it’s like when you ask your kid to do something and they just shrug their shoulders, or worse, completely ignore you? Don’t most lectures seem to start with “I told you…”? Tired of the eye rolls, the sloth-like response to simple directions? Do you wish you could give instructions and they would be followed? I get it. You want to be heard. You want to be able to tell your child to do something and not have the day go sideways because of one simple request.
I have raised five kids and home schooled for many years. Then I adopted my son. He had a trauma background and low executive functioning. I could tell him to please move his shoes and the war would start. I couldn’t believe it. I help hundreds of parents maneuver around these explosive attitudes, but until I saw it in my own home and saw the solutions played out, did I realize the power of responses to restructure brain waves and ultimately change attitude and behaviors.
I found the skills I guide other parents to use, really work, and they worked in my home as well. With challenging kids, parents have to be intentional in using good social language skills. And it works even better if it is simple. If you want better interactions and greater compliance, you must elicit better responses from your kids.
What does that mean?
It means that two simple words that your child or teen says can be a doorway to better brain functioning, less negative attitude and quicker compliance.
Those two words that set things right and made all the difference in the actions that followed? “Yes Mom.”
Start by sitting your kids down and telling them that when they are spoken to, they need to give a positive response--an indication that they heard the person and the response will be with a YES. You don’t have to do a lot of explaining here. Just let them know that you will be requiring them to respond to you with “Yes Mom, (Yes, Dad). You will be reminding them throughout the day. When they forget, you will wait with them and nothing else will happen until you get the response. You will set up times to practice the first week. The answer you are looking for when you call them, make a request or give direction or instruction to them is “Yes Mom”. You can remind them that you are all working on it, that it will ultimately make our home more positive and change the habits that have developed. When they protest, argue or mutter under their breath, your response will be, “I think what you meant to say is ‘Yes, Mom.’” Don’t argue back, don’t fuss about it, just remind them their answer is “Yes Mom.” Don’t worry about attitude or tone at this point, we are just practicing a good response.
Being ignored is frustrating. Being told no by a four year old can disrupt the household or start a negative loop for the day or longer. Feeling attacked by your teen because you simply asked them to put their clothes away, is no way to have a calm or happy home. Negative responses to negative responses or feedback destroys progress and make it easy to lose respect and delay growth.
Focus on response.
-by Michelle Williams-Alden, LPC, MFT Healthy Foundations, Owner Solutions for parents with very challenging kids.