Friday, April 2, 2010

It's how we say it!!

I sometimes feel like I will always be working on communicating in ways that encourage cooperation. I will always be a "work in progress" that is kind and understanding sometimes and forgets sometimes. Especially when I am tired or overwhelmed or stressed, I speak without thinking. And I am not always proud of what I say. In class the other day, we were discussing how to talk with children in ways that open up the doors of understanding and cooperation instead of shutting them down. Some examples are:

You've just asked her to stop what she is doing and clean up her toys. She doesn't want to and says, "You hurt my feelings." How do we respond to this four year old's attempt to draw us in and let her avoid her chore? When she says this, it seems to me she really means, "You are asking me to do something I don't want to do. I am having fun right now and it makes me sad to stop." So we can say something like, "I'm sorry you are feeling sad about stopping your play. But, it is time for dinner, so we need to work together to set the table. You can go back to playing that after we finish dinner."

He is balancing on a chair, reaching for something on the top shelf. We could say from across the room, "Get down from there right now!!" or we can adjust our words a little and go right over to him and move him to safety saying, "I'm worried you might fall. Let me hold you while you reach for that."

After a long day, you come in and find things left out all over the floor. There are clothes that need to be washed and things littering the table and counters. The TV is loud, and the kids are watching contentedly. You could complain, "Get that TV off. This place is a mess!" Or you could go over to them, getting their attention and say calmly, "Hey guys, I would like to sit down and watch some TV too, but there are many things that need to be done. I'm tired after a long day, and I could really use some help. Take a break from the TV and put these dirty clothes in the hamper. And please take your toys into your room."

As I type these examples in the calm of the evening, it seems easy. Why can't we remember these things in the heat of the moment. Like so many things, we have many opportunities for practice, and we need it! We keep trying over and over to get it right. We want to communicate our appreciation and acceptance of others. In family life, we really can find ways to express our appreciation and work together. How we say it, how we communicate DOES make a difference.