Parents Sometimes Say Too Much – An Expanded Common Sense Tip

It can be helpful for parents to say their ideas in as few words as possible. A short, clear explanation is often easier for children of all ages to understand and remember.

Many times, especially when frustrated or upset with their child, parents say a lot to a little one who seems not to be listening. As young children’s’ thoughts are often direct and uncomplicated they can easily miss the content of lengthy adult sentences with emotional overtones. Older children might be able to follow what their parent is saying but manage to “tune out” what they don’t want to hear especially if it is presented in “long winded” and/or agitated form. Most middle or high schoolers juggle so many personal tensions and judgments everyday that they are not at all interested in listening to a worried or frustrated mom or dad.

So what is a concerned, overwhelmed, understandably exasperated parent to do? I suggest that whenever possible that they take a deep breath and then give themselves some time to pull their thoughts together into a coherent, relatively brief form of calm and confident communication. (I know much easier said than done but even a little success can go a long way towards achieving a worthy goal.)

Once a bit more practiced in the art of the relaxed, clear delivery, it can then help for parents to remember that children often disagree and get upset with adult perspectives that they didn’t think of on their own. (Everyone, even adults, can get upset when things don’t go their way). If moms and dads know to expect a negative reaction it is easier to avoid an unnecessarily wordy, emotional reply. Exasperated drawn-out adult responses to children’s upsets can easily turn into an extended power battle or lengthy back and forth that gradually veers off topic and can end up exacerbating the problem at hand. Waiting a while and then if necessary briefly repeating the expectation sometimes with a concise and relaxed explanation can produce a better result.

Of course there are plenty of times when children are eager for parental thoughts and guidance. Such times are naturally cherished but even then conversations can deepen when children, even young ones, are given the opportunity to ask questions and say their ideas. In order to avoid “one-sided” discussions I often suggest that parents keep their words to a minimum pausing every once in a while to ask children for their reaction. It is usually easier for young people to internalize and appreciate a parent child conversation when they have been active participants in the dialogue.

It would be unrealistic to expect moms and dads to always stay cool, calm and collected. That wouldn’t work in lots of situations for many reasons. Instead I hope that parents use their judgment, (they know more about their family than anyone!) and see if the ideas shared here make a difference.