Paul: We have a method to get your child to listen and behave. Let's jump on the first part of that. The listen part. And Vicki, you can help us out with this because you are a communications expert. You work with kids all the time. How do we get our kids to listen first of all? I think we need to change the quality of our communication.
Vicki: Right. So, mean what you say and say what you mean.
Paul: Exactly. I like the way I've heard this put before that you turn your words from garbage into gold. What effect are your words having currently on your kids? Does it feel like they are treating your words like garbage? Like they don't pay any attention? They don't care what you say? Maybe we could increase the quality of what you are saying so that they know what to expect. Vicki, you said, “say what you mean and mean what you say.”
Vicki: If you realize that you are not backing up what you say, if you are not following through with what you say, go ahead and apologize and state it again and then follow through.
Paul: Say it in the way that you mean it. Can I share an example of that? We were living in an apartment building where there were some young families. The couple right next to us had some children, they were about our kids’ ages. I remember they were packing up the car to go to a family event or something that was probably an hour's drive away. Their 3-year-old was sitting on the stairs refusing to put on his shoes or get in the car. I heard the mom say, “Ben, if you don't put on your shoes on we're leaving without you.” Okay, what does this three-year-old know for sure?
Vicki: They know mom's not going to leave them sitting on the stairs for a weekend trip.
Paul: It's totally an empty threat. So, I just intervened. I had to. I said, “Leave him.” I'm kidding. You would never leave your 3-year-old. So, don't offer that as a threat. You say what you mean and you mean what you say. It would be much better for her to have said something like, “Ben, you can put your shoes on yourself or I'll put them on for you. Which would you prefer?” And if he says, “I don't want either.” She puts them on for him. You see you can enforce one of those. But say what you mean and mean what you say. Turning your words from garbage to gold takes some thinking.
Vicki: You want to start thinking about what you are going to say so that your kids think about what you have said. They are going to do the thinking after you have spoken and you are going do the thinking before you've spoken.
Paul: Ooh, I love that. Because if we speak before we think, sometimes we say something we didn't really mean.
Vicki: And we will go back to something we have said before. Remember that every interaction you have with your child, you are inviting them to either think or fight. So, let's do our thinking so that we can invite them to think.
Paul: Now, disclaimer: Usually when you say something you don't really mean or when you blow your top or you lose your cool, it's because in the moment, it's really hard to come up with something to think on your feet. Vicki, you introduced a solution for that early on. And that is IF you were to blow your top or when you say something you didn't really mean, apologize.
Vicki: Yeah. Own it, apologize and restate it.
Paul: It's okay to say that to your kids, “Oh, you know what? I said that impulsively that's not exactly what I meant. I'm sorry. Here's what I really mean.” Then give them what you have thought about now. So, let me see if I could track that right, Vicki, because I think it's brilliant. You start thinking before you say something to your child so that they will start thinking after you said something to them.
Vicki: That's it.
Paul: Let's do the thinking first and that will invite our kids to think. Love it.
Vicki: This next one can be really challenging and it's going to take some practice. And that is to detach yourself from the outcome. That's a really hard one.
Paul: You mean the thing you want your kid to do? You got to detach from the outcomes? This is challenging. Probably one of the hardest things we are going to ask you to do as a parent. But it's important for a lot of reasons. And one of the reasons that comes to mind for me is problem ownership –who owns the problem? A basic rule of psychology is that whoever owns the problem is most likely to solve it.
Paul: Here's how you can tell who owns the problem: Who's worried about it? Who's most bothered..? But now you're chuckling because you know where this is landing, right? Usually, we as parents are more concerned about or worried about whatever the problem is than our kids are. That creates a dynamic where we now become the most likely ones to solve it.
What I would suggest to you if you really want your kids to start behaving differently is that you move the problem from your shoulders right on over to their little shoulders.
Vicki: Now, that doesn't just happen automatically. You know, you and your team –your parenting team are going to have to figure out how to make it more important. How to get their child to get on board that it becomes more important to them.
Paul: We spent almost a half-hour on this just in one of the groups that I was leading last week. This comes up all the time in our positive parenting groups. As we were working it out, it became apparent… Well first of all, the mom that was the focus of this part of our group, she said, “Ugh! It's my problem.” I just saw the lights go on for her. Because it was a little painful at first. But then she realized, “Okay, so, how do I shift that?” We talked about ways that she could just remain so calm and cool. And it was exciting to see her latch onto this. Because she could say for example, here's a tool, “No problem.”
You know, when your child is being defiant or they are saying, “I'm not going to do that.” Or they don't listen. You simply come back with, “No problem.” You say it with a lilt to your voice, you raise your eyebrows just a touch because that makes them nervous. It means no problem for you as a parent.
No problem for me. Possible problem coming up for you, but I trust you to do some good thinking about that. See how that shifts the problem right on over to their shoulders. And the only way you can do that is if you are truly detached from the outcome where you are okay with either way. “Hey, you can do what I asked you to or not. It's really up to you.” Now, that's going to blow them away. They're going to be like, “Wait, it used to work.” Right? But it's because you have done some thinking in advance.
We've already talked about thinking. You've done some thinking in advance you've got some effective consequences that you can enforce 100%. You don't need their buy-in. You don't need them to be happy about it, you are really okay with either way. You can do this or not do it. It's up to you. Do some good thinking. “I'm okay with either way.” See how detached I am from the outcome? And that gives you some power.
As you apply what we just talked about, as you detach yourself from the outcome, I mentioned that you smile. You have a pleasant face, okay? Calm voice, calm face, calm body. That's something else that we've talked about as well. Be kind, be nice. Now nice doesn't mean indulgent. Nice doesn't mean that you bail them out from the consequences. It means that you show up as a smiling, pleasant, nice parent. And then you follow through with those consequences.
Vicki: For me as a mom, it was one of my hardest things I did. It was being consistent with the consequences. Just really start to focus on, “How can I be consistent?” That really is the key to changing your words from garbage to gold so that they actually listen.
Paul: If you use these methods, your kids are going to start listening and behaving. I don't know if you've had a chance yet to really explore what options and resources are available to you, but we have coaching programs. We have digital programs. All kinds of things that are available to you for any budget. Let's get you connected with one of our live on purpose certified coaches. Go to drpauljenkins.com/breakthroughcall to speak with one of our coaches and find out what we offer.