I am VERY excited today to host one of my favorite people in twitter and blog land, Dr. Deborah Gilboa from Ask Dr. G.
Dr. G (if we ever meet I’m pretty sure I will still call her Dr G instead of her actual first name) is a Board Certified Family Physician and mother of four. I’m not sure which gives her more credibility in my eyes (just kidding! It’s the kids) She not only speaks on parenting issues and answers all of your burning questions on her website, Ask Dr. G, she also runs an individualized workshop, “How to Get the Behavior You Want, Without Being the Parent You Hate.” And she’s featured on the Huffington Post! That’s big time, folks. She’s kind, supportive, and never charges me when I throw her a quick question on the Twitter.
Dr G was kind enough to answer a question for me that I think a lot of you with preschoolers (or maybe even older kids?) will relate to. I call it “Can you hear me, or am I talking to a brick wall?” syndrome.
How do you get your preschooler to listen without shouting so loud that the neighbors can hear? Seriously, I feel like I am talking to a brick wall sometimes, especially with one of my twins in particular. It could be me telling them to do/not to do something, or it could just be me trying to get her attention. She’s often off in lala land.
Signed, Harried mother of twins plus one (okay, it’s me)
Some kids are spacy! My husband (brave, brave man) coached our son’s kindergarten soccer team. He was fantastic, but said there wasn’t much to be done with the “astronauts.” These are the kids who lose track of the game in favor of butterflies, mud, kites, their own belly buttons…
Being off in lala land can be a great personality trait, unless, of course, you’re the one who has to get her attention. Kids who can imagine, focus on something the rest of us don’t see, give their complete attention to the task they’ve chosen are kids destined to make great strides in… something.
Until that great day when she dedicates her Nobel prize to you, however, you’re going to have to figure out what does get her attention. No need to yell, she doesn’t hear you anyway!
There are three tricks to actually communicating with kids:
- If you don’t have eye contact you have to assume she can’t hear you. So don’t start talking until she is looking you in the eye. The part of her brain that can actually attend to your words is not engaged if she is focusing on something else. Some kids can’t hear you until they have put down the toy, even if they’re looking at you.
- If you have to repeat yourself, get quieter instead of louder. The instinct to escalate our volume when saying something for a second time is almost inescapable! Unfortunately, as volume rises, so does blood pressure and frustration. If you get quieter she will attend to your words better.
- Kids don’t hear what you say to someone else. As a mom of four, I can’t begin to count the number of times I have said “Did you not hear what I JUST said to your brother?” The honest answer? “No, did you say something?” Kids can not be an example to one another. Just give up that fond wish now.
There are lots of other great communication tips. Keep it short, ask your child to repeat back to you what they heard, use funny voices… There are lots of options to avoid yelling if you can keep your cool long enough to remember any of them. Ha!
The last yelling tip I want to leave you with is this: It’s OK to yell occasionally. People in this world yell. If a child has never heard someone “lose it” in frustration at home, they are not going to be so resilient when this happens to them at school or youth group or at their first job. Even more important, they’re not going to have any context for their own frustration as they grow if they never see ours.
So happy communicating!
Do you feel better after reading that? I totally do. I really like “No need to yell, she doesn’t hear you anyway!” It’s like she knows my kids. I also love the idea of keeping it short and having them repeat back to you. We forget that our kids can’t soak in a long, drawn out lecture on why they shouldn’t sling sticks around pretending that they are Puss and their sister is Kitty Softpaws when “You’ll poke your eye out” will suffice.
I love these tricks, and I’m committed to keeping them in mind the next time
I’m being ignored they’re being spacey.
And I cannot WAIT until Rachel dedicates her Nobel prize to me.