How Many Words Does It Take to Be a Highly Effective Parent?
Hint: Not as Many as You Think
By Vickie Falcone, M.A.
Often our first response to a parenting challenge is to spew words. Yet, there is no such thing a basic human need to be spewed upon. Yet spew we do, especially if we’re parents. When we offer comments, suggestions and lectures without first hearing the child, we disconnect. If we continually respond this way, over time our children develop a condition called “mommy deafness.”
In trying to “convince” our children to cooperate, it’s easy to resort to excessive talking or lecturing. This practice of using more words to gain cooperation and be heard is based on the following faulty assumption:
The more clear I make myself, the greater the chance my child will cooperate.
Many of us even know better that to believe this assumption, and yet continue falling into moments of over-talking out of habit.
A more accurate assumption is:
The less we talk, the more likely we will be heard and acknowledged.
Understanding this truth, gives us the understanding and motivation to move into a practice of using fewer words.
Start by taking the tiny, but essential step of being willing to be aware of the times when you resort to too many words. Is it when we are trying to get out the door in the morning? …trying to get our child to eat? …or clean her room?
If we will carefully watch our children’s faces at these times, they will tell us all we need to know about how effectively we are communicating. Watch for signs of “mommy deafness”: grimaces, “checked-out stares” or even hands over the ears.
ONE SMALL STEP (tiny, doable action steps you can take right away to be a more effective parent)
- What you have been communicating in a lecture, say in a paragraph.
- What you have been communicating in a paragraph, say in a sentence.
- What you have been communicating with a sentence, say in a word.