Ask Your Kids, "Is There Something You Think I Say Too Often?"

conversations Mar 08, 2021
feedback parenting resilience

Sometimes, hard as we try, the words we say to our kids just are not effective. For whatever reason, they don't resonate with our kids. When we say them, our kids feel annoyed instead of inspired. They think we are lecturing them, or they think we are not very aware.

And if you think about it, I bet you can come up with a few phrases that your parents repeatedly said to you that always rubbed you the wrong way. 

We can be more effective parents if we ask our kids what these words and phrases are. Perhaps your 11-year-old son is tired of hearing you say, "When I was a kid ..."

He will tell you that times have changed since you were a kid and that he is a different person than you are. As well-intended as the advice is, it goes in one ear and out the other ear because your son discounts it as irrelevant and out of touch.

Of course, we know that you have wisdom to share with your child, but this method of conveying it is ineffective with your child, so trying a new tactic might help you more effectively reach your child and share your wisdom.

Perhaps your 15-year-old daughter is tired of hearing you tell her what a great student she is. When you talk to her about it, you begin to understand that this label is putting too much pressure on her and making her worry anytime she is struggling.

This is great insight. After all, you certainly don't want to be the source of anxiety.

That said, asking this question does not necessarily mean that you have to change your behavior. If your six-year-old is tired of hearing you tell him that he has to brush his teeth before bed, you'll probably still want to remind him to brush his teeth before bed so that he does not end up with rotten teeth!

But asking your kids for feedback is never a bad thing. Children's voices are routinely squashed, so providing room for them to speak up will help them grow into confident, empowered adults who have self-efficacy, who get their needs met, and who are not shy about speaking up when they would like to facilitate change.

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