Your language can either inflame a situation or prompt your child to evaluate their behavior and yes, learn something. Evaluating their behavior is the first step toward them recognizing consequences and doing something different.
Your job is to be a mirror to "reflect" their behavior. It also serves two other functions: not to get emotionally embroiled with them and to encourage them to be responsible for their own behavior. Also, you can stop being the "hall monitor" and Nagger-in-Chief.
Let's begin with some comments here:
1. If you hear yourself saying, "What's the matter with you?", step into the bathroom and regroup. Look in the mirror and ask, "What kind of person am I creating here?". You already know what's "wrong" with them; they're 4 or 7 or 11 or 13 or 15 years old and they're not "done cooking". They have immature brains and it's your job to train them.
2. Some of these statements may feel "new age-y" and a bit too "soft", but creating an adult requires thoughtful interaction. Pay this forward and you won't regret it.
3. At first, this may feel awkward and out of character for you and your kid will notice, so sit them down for a quick chat and tell them you are changing the way you speak with them. Don't let them guess as to why you've changed. Tell them it's your job to help them learn how to make healthy decisions. That's it.
4. It will take about three weeks (new behavior is generally established in 21 days) before it feels "natural" and like everything else, you improve with practice.
1. "You may not be aware that when you _____, other people feel ______/think that you______."
2. "It is unfortunate that you chose to ______ because now I choose not to ____ (drive you to the mall, give you movie money)."
3. "You look _____. Tell me what I can do to help." (This encourages them to actually think about what they need instead of relying on you for options. They may just want you to listen and not do a thing.)
4. "I have confidence that you ___________ (can make a healthy decision, give it your best effort)."
5. "Practice _____ and see how it turns out. " (This concept of practice is incredibly important. It implies that improvement is related to keeping at it or that taking a chance will teach them something they need to know. Avoid the word "try" as it suggests some level of failure...just do it.)
6. "That behavior is not _______ (healthy, helpful). What can you do to change the situation?"
7. "Ask yourself if you can live with the consequences of ____________ (drinking, cheating, lying)."
8. "You have to feel really ______ about your _____." (They know your job is to help them feel good about themselves. Authentic, real-life sense of worth comes from their own recognition that they have earned success legitimately.)
9. "Second-grade girls get themselves dressed for school every morning." "Fifteen-year old boys empty the trash when they are asked." (They want to "stay with the pack" and educating them about the behavior expected of their age and gender avoids judgment.)
1. Avoid "good and bad". Those words don't help. Instilling a goal of being healthy and helpful in the family relationship is key.
2. When they don't seem to know how to solve a problem, don't back them into a corner. "Let me give you some choices and you tell me which one will help".
3. If they've "blown it", give them a "do-over" or a "re-ride". In a rodeo, the bull or bronco rider is given a re-ride when something has happened that could not be controlled and they are given a second chance. "I'm absolutely sure you would like to bring those words back into your mouth. Want a second chance at this?"
4. Come back to me in 5 minutes and tell me two ways to help us fix this. Make certain that you adhere to the time line otherwise, you will have taught them that the process doesn't count and you can't be trusted.
5. Employers value an employee with a positive attitude who consistently puts forth a genuine effort. They don't need any more divas on their payroll than they've got already. Focus on these two essential elements in life and you'll help your child to develop resilience and coping skills. "You really worked hard on that" versus "I'm so proud of you" focuses on them and not you.
Let me know how it goes! TTFN....