How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk

The ideals in this book are not tools to manipulate your children into obeying your will, they are a way to communicate empathy, love, and acceptance at times when those are the hardest emotions to convey. The most satisfying result is not when your children do as they should, but when they begin to treat themselves and others with empathy and become problem solvers themselves.

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk
by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

Putting the book into action:

Note This!
My son doesn't always remember to clean up his crumbs after breakfast, so I thought it would be cute to leave him a note on the table: It's a bummer to see crumbs here :)
"I always clean up my crumbs!" he barked at me upon sitting down and seeing the note.
It was my first attempt at one of the tricks from How To Talk, and they did say not to worry if it doesn't work every time. "I was just giving you a little reminder," I said, and left it at that, feeling like a bit of a failure.

Monkey See, Monkey Do
I guess he wasn't in the best mood that day, because not long after the note incident, my son barked at me for asking a simple question. I hate to admit it, but normally I would just ignore something like that, but this time I said, "I didn't deserve that, I'm trying to be nice even though we are both tired and rushed this morning."
"I know, I'm sorry," came the reply.
Once we made it to the car, I barked at my son for no reason and, without hesitation, he said to me "Mom, I'm trying to be nice, I don't think I deserved that." And he was right. I apologized and we headed out of the driveway to start our day.
Oh The Profanity!
Last night, as I was making dinner, I heard my son swearing in the basement at whomever he was online with playing video games. The words were F-You B*tch. He was talking to a guy, not a girl, just so we're clear on that. I called him off his game and told him we had to talk about his language, but not right now. Frankly, I didn't know how to approach it at that moment and wanted to give him a chance to think about it as well. I said we'd talk about it at bed time. He was anxious, I could tell, but I stayed firm - we'll talk about it later. I recalled the problem solving exercise from the audiobook I'd been listening to in my car and decided to give it a go.

Later that night I grabbed a paper and pen and sat beside his bed. "So what was all that swearing about?"

He told me that the group of kids that were bugging him last week (we had to speak to the school about it, the boys made up and were playing online together again) were bugging him again. "I get so mad that I swear at them." Tears welled up in his eyes.

"We have a problem," I told him. "Let's figure out a solution." It sounds to me like you get frustrated and angry when these boys bug or tease you online and that causes you to swear back at them. And it makes me feel shocked and embarrassed, and a little angry too, that my son uses words like that. So let's write down some possible solutions."

1. No more gaming (mine)
2. Remove those guys from my friends list online (my son's)
3. Tell those guys at school tomorrow that I got in trouble for swearing and my mom says I can't play online with them anymore, that they are a bad influence on me. Then remove them from my list tomorrow after school. (my son's)

My son's solution was clever - he was able avoid them online now without any sort of stigma about it - as far as they knew, he was forbidden to play with them online. The truth was that he just doesn't have fun playing with them. But this way, Mom takes the blame and he saves face. And, of course, he doesn't feel the need to defend himself against them by swearing.

I was so impressed with the process, I congratulated my son on his decision making and problem solving skills and decided next I was going to try this on my fiance. That night I told V that any complaints or issues would only be addressed on Sunday nights. The only language I would accept from him throughout the week would be a simple "I have an issue/problem/complaint, we'll talk about it on Sunday." I feel good about this. I plan to use the exact same problem solving technique I used with my son, because it's a good way to keep myself calm as well when things need to be hashed out.
Viscous Cycle
There's a trend in my house, albeit improving, that if my finace gets up in the morning and sees that my son has forgotten to put the bean bag on the couch (the dog will sleep on it and get hair all over it otherwise), he reports back to me, annoyed, setting off my mood, knowing that I now have to give my son crap first thing in the morning, ruining the start of his day too. Not a fun situation at 7:00 AM.

I had begun threatening to take away his Xbox if he kept forgetting. This morning it happened again. V gave me the annoyed report, I may have replied with something immature not wanting to deal with it, and then approached my son's room, knocking on the door because I knew he was getting dressed for school. "You forgot the pillow again and you'll have to vacuum up the couch before you have breakfast."

My son, in a disappointed tone replied, "Does that mean no Xbox tonight?"

"You know, you've been doing a really good job remembering the pillow, we all forget things sometimes, you're only human. Vacuum up the couch and we'll talk about it after breakfast."
D vacuumed the couch without complaint and then we discussed ways that we could help him remember. I let him come up with the ideas this time. He said, "I can double check before I leave the room." (a tactic I had suggest to him over and over again since this all began). I didn't say anything. "I can write myself a note and put it on my Xbox so it reminds me when I'm done."

"That's a great idea," I said.

HE USED THE NOTE IDEA FROM THE FIRST DAY! I was doing a happy dance in my head. Fingers crossed that it works for him.

Good luck out there,

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