When I talk with parents, the question I most often hear is, “Andra, what do I do when my kids are tired and whiney and aren’t listening to me?”
This is my absolute favorite question. Here's the answer you've been looking for:
The Better Than Science Fiction Parenting Solution
Because what else do you call a solution that
changes the way you think about time, space and superpowers?
1. TIME Do you assume that your kids are working with the same version of time that you use? When you ask them to do something, it seems normal to expect them to just do it. This, however, is a bit of magical, science fiction. Kids’ brains just need more time to make sense of what you are saying. It’s called “Take Up Time” — how much time it takes them to “upload” what you are saying. The solution? Make sure you have enough time. Ten minutes is usually sufficient. Make your request**. (SEE NOTE BELOW)
Give your kids 5 minutes to “take up” what you’ve said.
If they haven’t responded, repeat the request. Without getting mad or yelling. Just because they need to hear it again. Allow another 5 minutes for kids to respond.
If they still haven’t responded, be clear about what just happened, calmly go to your normal discipline routine.
2. SPACE How often are you yelling at your kids just because you are in another room? Maybe you are focused on what you are doing and want them to respond to you right now. Chances are you are not actually anywhere near where your kids are. There’s just too much physical space between you and them. One of the most effective tricks I learned as a new teacher was to get closer to kids when I wanted them to really pay attention to me.
TRY THIS: Next time you catch yourself yelling at your kid, see if there’s a way you can get closer. Even better, see if you can actually stop long enough to really get their attention. Let me know what happens next.
3. SUPER POWERS I have always wanted to be able to fly. These days I’m more likely to wish that I could be in two places at once or could just do three more things in the 20 minutes before my daughter comes home. The sad news is, much like being able to fly, there’s really no such thing as multitasking. Your brain just doesn’t do it. Sure, you can switch from one thing to another with astonishing speed, but the truth is you can only really focus on one thing at a time.
So what happens when you are focused on making dinner and your kid wants you to help them do a puzzle? Or maybe you’re like me and try to make breakfast, lunch and get myself and my kid organized for the day and out the door in 30 minutes. Instead of wishing for superpowers, the Better Than Science Fiction Solution is accept your limitations. Practice explaining to your kids that you can only do one thing at a time. My daughter swears it’s my favorite phrase based on how often she hears it.
Stay tuned for my next message with a simple Pause Practice you can use anytime you are feeling a little off your game.
With much love,
Andra Brill, Ph.D.
Mindful Parenting Coach &
Family Fairy Godmother
*These statements have not been evaluated by anyone. However, I’d love to hear how they work for you over at the Mindful Parenting Solutions FaceBook group.
**How to make a proper request:
Say this: I need you to pick up your toys.
Not this: Will you please pick up your toys? (Because a perfectly valid response is “No.”)
EXTRA SPECIAL BONUS
THE LIFE ALTERING SOLUTION
TO STOP YELLING AT YOUR KIDS
And so now for the life-altering solution to tired, whiney tantrums. I’m going to tell you, but you’re not going to like it. Especially if your kids are still not sleeping through the night. Let me apologize now.
GET MORE SLEEP
I know. I warned you that you wouldn't like it. Getting to bed early is a huge challenge in our home too. For some reason time does some weird bendy thing between 5 and 8 so that instead of three hours, it feels more like 20 minutes. I don’t personally understand this phenomena, but I do know that the more sleep everyone in the family gets, the easier it is to get along and enjoy each other’s company.
Even if you can’t always make sure that the kids get to bed early enough, it’s good to have at least one night a week where dinner is early and there can be an early bedtime with lots of take up time so that you can enjoy those sweet moments of snuggling your kiddos before bed.