Parenting

5 Questions Every Parent Needs to Answer

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Time and again, parents ask for help responding to some variation of these five questions. In Just Tell Me What to Say, you will find sensible tips and scripts to guide you in talking with your child about these issues and many others.

1) How do I get my child to listen to me?
2) How do I get my children to stop fighting?
3) How do I get my kids to eat something, anything, healthy?'
4) How did the baby get in your tummy?
5) What does it mean to be dead?

1) How do I get my child to listen to me?

Listening is not the problem. The problem is that your child is not being compliant, not doing what you are asking him to do or not to do. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. You, however, need to grow some credibility, otherwise known as backbone. Position yourself deliberately, right in front of your child and not across the room from your child. State your request clearly, being very specific in your expectations. Explain the consequence for non-compliance, giving just one warning. Give him a moment to comply, and when he doesn’t, lower the boom (impose the related consequence.) Repeated and hollow threats create children who don’t listen.

2) How do I get my children to stop fighting?

Sibling children fight! It’s not necessarily a bad thing, either. It may be bad for you because the sound effects likely drive you nuts. When both children are older than 3 years old, there is one sure fire method to reduce the fighting: Remove yourself from the scene. Just walk away. Go into your room. Leave the scene. When you are not there to be the judge or the jury, the siblings magically solve their own problems; they figure it out. It may not be “fair,” but it is over! (Note that I am not talking about physical fighting here.)

3) How do I get my kids to eat something, anything, healthy?

Don’t fight about food! This is one of those areas (like clothing) where my best advice is to resist the call to arms. You cannot control what your child, or anyone else for that matter, eats. Often taking the fight out of food consumption gives your child permission to eat on his own terms. And that is often what he wants…control. This doesn’t mean you need to give in; it means you refuse to fight about it. Serve the food you are offering and if your child chooses not to eat, so be it! He won’t starve, I promise. (You will, likely, need to tolerate an explosive reaction when you deny him food an hour later!)

4) How did the baby get in your tummy?

Babies don’t grow in tummies! The only thing that goes in a tummy is food or medicine. Babies grow in a special place inside a woman’s body called the uterus or womb. It is right next to the tummy. That big hump you see in a pregnant woman is her stretched out uterus. It gets bigger and bigger as the baby inside gets bigger, until it is ready to be born.

5) What does it mean to be dead?

Dead means that something that was once alive is all done living. Everything that is alive will die sometime. Everything that is alive has a life cycle -- trees and flowers, animals and bugs, and all people have life cycles. First they are born and are very little; then they grow up; and then they die. (You will probably need to add that you, the parent, are not going to die for a long, long, long, LONG time.)