The way you talk to your child is probably how they will talk to others. But are they actually listening? Here are some suggestions for speaking to preschoolers in a way that makes them want to listen.
- Address your child by name. Do not assume that since you are in the same room they are listening. Start your requests with your son’s or daughter’s name to get their attention.
- Get on their level. Before you begin speaking, squatting down to your preschooler’s eye level helps them focus on your face and the words you are about to say.
- Keep your conversations short. One or two sentences is often all that can be said before your preschooler loses interest or gets distracted. The longer you ramble on with explanations and details, the more likely your preschooler will “tune you out” and no longer listen.
- Use “When…then” statements. For example: “When you pick up your toys, then we will have a snack.” Dr. Bill Sears says, “’When,’ which implies that you expect obedience, works better than ‘if,’ which suggests that the child has a choice when you don’t mean to give him one.”
- Repeat instructions purposefully. Most parents recognize that preschoolers require much repetition. This is because young children have difficulty internalizing your directions. As your children age, you can repeat less often. (By the time your child is a teenager, they will see your repetition as irritating.)
- Be positive. Preschoolers hear “no” and words like it a lot! Try to find positive ways to communicate even negative responses to your child. Instead of saying, “Do not yell,” you can try, “We use our quiet voices inside and our loud voices outside.” Or “Do not run,” could be said as, “Inside we use walking feet.”
- Use a soft answer. Dr. Sears offers another great tip for getting your preschooler to listen when they are upset:
The louder your child yells, the softer you respond. Let your child ventilate while you interject timely comments: “I understand” or “Can I help?” Sometimes just having a caring listener available will wind down the tantrum. If you come in at his level, you have two tantrums to deal with. Be the adult for him.
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Want to learn more about Kids ‘R’ Kids Learning Academy of Suwanee located in Suwanee, Georgia? Our mission is to provide secure, nurturing, and educational environments for children ages 6 weeks – 12 years. We help children to bloom into responsible, considerate, and contributing members of society. For more information, give us a call or stop by for a tour! We’d love to get to know you and your family.