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Getting Kids Who Work Against You To Work With You…

Today I get to go ‘out to work’ to do real live training for the first time since October.

AND to talk about one of my fave subjects; why the adult-child relationship matters more than anything we ‘do with’ children.

This is in a residential care setting, so all of the young people have a history of ruptured relationships. 
The right input will make repair possible, but the need is deep.

Even so, growing up in loving, warm environments doesn’t assure positive parent-child relationships. At the heart of the dilemma of almost every parent I work with is the inability to connect, to get through, to understand one another…

How do you stay out of the ‘Yes/No’ dynamic that can dismantle all connection with our kids?
These are the exchanges that can bring out the absolute worst in us, in a very short space of time.

It usually goes something like this… All our kids need to do is to listen, to co-operate, to accept our answer; usually “No”, “Stop it”, “Don’t”, “Not now”.

Sometimes it’s enough… But often it isn’t. In our children’s world, what we say has no meaning at all…

So, what’s the answer?
The truth is that ‘no’ – or a version of – it usually spills straight out of our mouths on autopilot, so this one can take a lot of practice…
But the is gold in avoiding the undesirable responses altogether. There are two habits to master here;

1) You respond by asking a question, not giving an answer. And is has to be a genuine question. Couching a judgement inside a question is just fanning the flames.

2) You don’t ask the question directly… It’s more like thinking out loud, and inviting them in. i.e.;

  • Instead of “Stop behaving like this” TRY “I’m wondering why you’re behaving like this? Perhaps you’re feeling X, Y or Z?

  • Instead of “Don’t talk to me like that” TRYI’m guessing you don’t feel like using your nice voice? Maybe it would it help if X, Y or Z?

  • Instead of saying “No” TRY “Why do you think I can’t say ‘yes’ right now”?

The temptation might be to carry on explaining yourself, or to answer the question you’ve just asked… Don’t!

Just leave the question with them. It’s your curiosity that changes the tone of the exchange and helps your child engage with you, rather than work against you.

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