Friday, January 2, 2015

Instead of Yelling or Threatening

"...this stuff might work on girls, but not on boys"

One night after a parenting class, a father of two boys ages three and five approached me and said, “Vickie, this stuff might work on girls, but not on boys. You don’t have boys, so you don’t understand. I have to get in their face to get their attention.”

“What is your tone of voice when you get in their face?” I asked.

The dad laughed. “I've had it, usually, and I’m mad.”

I empathized with him. I've been there at the end of the proverbial rope, resorting to the quickest technique I know—yelling. “Continue to get in their face,” I insisted. “Just do it with love. Instead of getting ‘loud and nasty,’ try ‘close and kind.’ Both get the results you want, and the latter doesn't hurt the child.”

It’s true that we get better results when we get in their face. This father had been practicing a truncated version of the eight steps. He made eye contact, used not-so-loving touch and gave the boys 100 percent of his focused attention. He just needed to add a few more steps to increase his likelihood for cooperation while, at the same time, preserving his relationship with his sons. At the next class, the father shared that, though he had not mastered all the steps, even adding a few made his interactions with his sons go more smoothly.

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