For the second skill, nurturing, remember different children need to be nurtured in different ways depending on their temperament. Sensitive children need to be listened to and understood. Active children need preparation and structure to do well. Responsive children need distraction and direction to be cooperative. And receptive children need ritual and rhythm to bring out their best selves.
Improve Communication & Minimize Resistance
Children typically resist for one of two reasons. Either:
1. Children don’t feel heard or seen, or
2. They are not getting what they need or want.
You minimize a child’s resistance by doing two things:
1. Consistently setting boundaries.
Expect there to be challenges—this is not undermining your authority, they are just learning and testing the parameters you are setting. Life is dynamic, so while rules may change based on the circumstances, your boundaries change in regards to their developmental level.
2. Listening and asking questions to draw out feelings.
If we have trouble controlling our own emotions, just think how much harder it is for your children to even identify what emotions they are feeling. Childhood is a time for exploration, and part of this is helping your children find words and explanations for their feelings so they can learn to use them constructively.
Parents can minimize resistance by validating their child’s emotions of anger, sadness, or fear in a calm, warm way. You can also reaffirm boundaries and redirect attention when you find your child resisting your requests. Teaching delayed gratification also helps children understand that their needs are heard, but you also teach patience and consequences as you help them reason through why now you aren’t able to fulfill their need, but you can if they do such and such first.
The easiest way to inspire cooperation is to ask instead of order or demand. Remember you do this by using: would/will you, instead of could/can you. The more direct you are in asking for help, the easier it is for a child to make a yes or no decision. When you eliminate rhetorical questions, and give up explanations and lectures you are able to meet them at their reasoning level according to their age. Getting down and talking to kids at their eye level, also let’s kids know that what they have to say is important too. And, remember don’t use feelings to manipulate, because this is not a behavior you’d like your kids to use on others when not in your presence. The magic word is “let’s.”
If you’re interested in learning more about positive parenting, you can find Mars Venus coaches in your local area, and inquire when they’re next Children Are From Heaven will be presented so you can ask questions and take part in group exercises. Or, if time’s a constraint, you can do the eWorkshop version, which let’s you learn the material from the comfort of your own home and on your own time! Remember consistency is key.