A big part of the Nanny 911 book (and philosophy) is communication. Nanny 911 frequently speaks about communicating – with your spouse, and with your children. Not only will open communication help solve problems now, it will also set a great foundation for your little ones to grow on – all the way to adulthood!
Think about all the times you’ve had a conflict, whether at school, work, or even at the grocery store. Communicating effectively most likely could have not only solved many of those issues, but prevented them. Not many people put the effort in to learn how to communicate.
3 Communication Tips for Kids of All Ages
Be consistent (Nanny 911 Commandment #6), and receptive. Like I tell the little ones, “put your listening ears on”. Sometimes, as kids grow into teens, they start to shut down and refuse to communicate with us as parents. Many times, that happens not because they’re “just teenagers”, but because we have taught them that we don’t want to hear what they have to say. I know it’s easy to say that we do listen to our kids, but in this day and age of cell phones and social media, many parents miss the mark when it comes to looking their kids in the eyes and giving them their undivided attention. If this is you, don’t fret – it’s something you can easily fix, with a little work.
1. When communicating with children of all ages – yes, even teens – look them in the eye. This is so important. Put down the phone and give your child 100% of your attention. If you don’t, you’re teaching them two things:
1 – The phone is more important than they are.
2 – If they misbehave or act out, you just might get mad enough to put the phone down and give them the attention they’re craving.
Put extra effort into spending time with your kids, no matter their age. Read to your kids, or have them read to you. Set up a sensory bin, or even a water table, and get down on their level to have a little extra play time.
2. Babies and Toddlers: When babies do something like bite or hit, use communication to redirect. Obviously you wouldn’t put a baby in time out, but talking to them and explaining things as if they know what’s going on is what you want to do from Day 1! They will learn about expected behavior, and your responses, much faster this way.
With babies and toddlers, instead of saying “no hitting!”, I like to say “gentle touches” and show an example. Or, “hands are for loving, not hitting” – with another example. For older kids, “Use your words” instead of hitting.
I’m a preschool teacher, so “teacher” mode is something that sticks with me. As a preschool teacher, I try to only use positive language. Meaning I don’t say “no running”, I’ll say “walking feet”. This is because when you say “no running”, an image of running goes through their mind! Forget the “no” part… they’re gone! 🙂 If you say “walking feet”, then they’re picturing a set of walking feet and will hopefully comply. We know this concept from when the librarians in school would say “inside voices” instead of “no yelling!”. It works!
3. All ages: When discussing behavior with your child, don’t interrupt. Let them speak their piece – in a respectful way – and then repeat or at least acknowledge what they’ve said. I love that the Nanny 911 book has several examples of real conversations with kids of all ages to demonstrate exactly how to do this. Show your child you love them, but also tell them. Tell them you’re listening, then show them by putting your phone or other distractions away.
Communication is vital to a healthy relationship with your kids, but it does take some work – especially if communication isn’t something you were taught while growing up. When your kids understand that you’re listening to them, they’re more likely to listen to you. Practice makes perfect, though, so just keep working towards a positive and open line of communication in the family.
Check out the rest of my Nanny 911’s series (coming soon!):
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