This post contains a useful tip to communicate better with kids particularly those children deemed “angry”. As you know we've been on a journey with our middle son. He is both our greatest joy and biggest challenge. His “inflexibility” or “rigidness” or “explosiveness” – however you want to describe the quality – is part of him. So, as parents, we choose not to ignore or to squash this quality, but instead to honor and embrace the quality. We believe his ability to feel every bit of the world around him is what truly makes him “great” as a human being. This ‘rigid', ‘inflexible' quality will ultimately bring him success in life. We want him to live life joyfully. How can we communicate better with kids?
Do you Want to Communicate Better with Kids?
I recently said to my four year old, “You can choose to be happy.” Upon hearing these words he responded “I will never be happy.” He is four years old. Life is supposed to be filled with joy. My heart broke into a million pieces. My eyes filled with tears. I knew we had a long road ahead of us. We are still on that road but there is hope and light on our path. We've been working with a therapist trained by Dr. Ross Greene, author of The Explosive Child. His claim to fame is a Collaborative Problem Solving approach with those individual lagging in these types of problem solving skills (i.e. the ability to come up with many options other than the one stuck in your head!). The book is quite good and has helped our family a great deal. If you want to communicate better with kids, I highly recommend purchasing it!
Among the many points that stuck with me after reading this book, one point that truly made an impact was giving opportunity to the child to come up with ideas, alternatives, and options as often as he can and without an adult's suggestion (at least at first). Never logically explain why the suggestion may not work but instead validating the idea, the fact that the child was able to think of an alternative outside of what was originally a black & white issue in his head.
With guidance from Dr. Greene's Collaborative Problem Solving framework, this phrase has helped me and my son move forward in a positive way.
Simply respond to his requests and ideas with the phrase :
“That's an idea.”
Respond with interest and curiosity (not judgement or logic) in your tone, maybe even write the idea down on a piece of paper because you “don't want to forget these ideas.”
Use this phrase. Let me know how it goes for you!