Friday, May 3, 2013

How to Encourage Listening and Cooperation

Perhaps you've heard the phrase "practice what you preach." I know I heard it a lot growing up... and yet I couldn't for the life of me figure out why. Maybe because there always seemed to be a lot more "preaching" than "practicing," even from those who were saying it. Unfortunately I think this is still the case for most parenting today. Most parents expect their children to behave in ways they, as parents, are not able to behave themselves. And if we cannot model the behavior we want our children to learn, who are we to flinch when they mimick our example?

So what does it mean to model the behavior you want to see in your children? Of course it means saying "Please, Thank you, Excuse me, I'm Sorry." I don't believe in making children say any of these things because it doesn't encourage authenticity (see "The Most Confusing Word in the English Language" by Vickie at Demand Euphoria). Besides, children learn these phrases simply by hearing us use them. But there's more to what we model than social niceties because there is so much more to life than being polite. So modeling the behavior we want to see in our children also means modeling those very behaviors we are so quick to demand from our children. And listening and cooperation seem to be pretty high on the list of complaints from parents.
"My child ignores me."
"My child won't listen."
"My child refuses to cooperate."
"Listen to me when I'm talking to you."

Here's an example of how we fail to practice what we preach:

It's time for Natalia to get dressed, so her mom asks her to pick out some clothes. She responds with, "can you come with me?" Her mom is busy cleaning breakfast dishes, so she says, "no, you can do it yourself." And for the next 25 minutes while she's cleaning up she's also engaged in a power struggle with her child over picking out clothes because she chose not to listen to her child's needs or cooperate with her request.
Now imagine if she chose to listen and cooperate instead:

Natalia asks, "can you come with me?" and her mom responds, "sure! Give me 5 minutes to clean these dishes. Could you bring me your cup and dish?" Together they finish the clean up and head to the bedroom, where Natalia's mom now has the opportunity to guide Natlaia through the dressing process in a playful manner, "hmmm, where can we find those clothes?"

The simple choice to listen and cooperate just transformed a 25 minute power struggle into 15 minutes of connection with her child, plus it modeled the prosocial behaviors of listening and cooperating, while also building a sense of capability within Natalia, who now feels heard, engaged, and honored.
Listening and Cooperation
If we don't listen to our children when they're talking to us, they learn not to hear us when we're talking to them.
If we don't cooperate with our children when they request our help or our presence, they will not cooperate with our requests.
What are we really modeling?
To learn more about connecting and collaborating with your children in ways that promote intrinsic motivation, responsibility and a sense of capability visit http://www.parentingbeyondpunishment.blogspot.com or http://www.wildchildcounseling.com
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Amy_C_Bryant

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