Chick Moorman is an author and the creator of Parent Talk System, a program that teaches parents effective ways of talking to children that enhance self-esteem, stimulate learning, and encourage autonomy. I attended a Chick Moorman parenting tips presentation at Crittenton – it was a two hour presentation that touched on a few different tips for parents when talking with their children. It didn’t nearly cover all of what Chick Moorman has to offer, but it was a great insite that left me feeling uplifted and looking forward to more. Here are some parenting tips that were discussed as part of Chick Moorman’s Parent Talk System.
There’s a lot that goes into how we say things. One word can make a difference; think about all the words we as parents say to our kids that are making a difference. In an effort to build parenting awareness, here’s an analysis of certain phrases and parent talk methods.
PARENT TALK KEYWORDS :
Using the phrase “Next time” in place of “Don’t” increases your chances for success. Check out these examples: “Next time, please let me get off the phone before you ask questions.” “Next time, please wipe off the counter after making your PB&J sandwich.” This is the alternative to “Don’t interrupt me when I’m on the phone.” “Don’t leave the PB&J mess on the counter.” “Don’t” doesn’t work. Saying “Next time” doesn’t mean it will necessarily happen next time, but it increases your chances and makes you feel like a better person. It allows you to be a teacher, instead of a criticizer.
When kids are getting ready for something and there’s a lot to remember, use the phrase “Check yourself” to get the kids to review and make sure they have everything. It’s not your job to list through everything either. For example, the kids are getting ready to go to school… so you say “Check yourself and see if you got everything.” Or, you’re getting ready to go to grandmas… check yourself. Remember Grandma has nothing to do over there. If they leave something behind, don’t tell them. Let it go. It’s their job. If you rescue them, you give them no reason to remember it. There’s one exception… health and safety. e.g. a forgotten inhaler.
If they do forget something, don’t accuse or get angry. Face the problem together. Always lead with empathy. You can’t go wrong. For example, your child needs to bring a helmet to his baseball game. When he realizes he forgot it…
You: “Oh my, your helmet is not there. That’s terrible. What are you going to do about it?”
Child: “Nothing I can do, the helmet’s not here.”
You: “You always have more choices than you think you have.”
Child: “I can’t think of any.”
You: “I can. I’ve seen other kids your age forget things. Do you want to hear some? Let’s brainstorm some ways to solve this problem. Maybe the coach has some loaners. Check with him. Maybe there’s a lost and found you can borrow one from.”
Child: “Maybe my friend got a new one and brought both today.”
You: “Ok, I gotta go, I know you can handle it.”
Then leave and let them handle it. On the way home, say nothing. Let the consequence do the teaching. Maybe a day later, you can say “Let’s think of a way to do this so that doesn’t happen again. Let’s come up with something together.”
Here are some more Chick Moorman Parenting Tips from his Parent Talk System:
- If your child uses the phrases “I can’t do it. It’s too hard. I don’t get it”… make sure you don’t come back with “Just try.” It doesn’t work. Instead say: “Act as if…” e.g. “I want you to act as if you can. Act as if you’ve done this already. I know you’ve never done this yet, but I want you to act as if you have. I’ll be back.” And then leave. It doesn’t work with every kid, and it doesn’t work every time. For younger kids, you can use “Play like” you’re an expert. Or “Pretend Like” you can. Kids may do it incorrectly. But, you can correct incorrect doing. You can’t correct not doing.
- Shamed base parenting doesn’t work. It just makes the kids feel like they’re not worthy, and they’re rotten. It doesn’t help, it hurts. Never say “You ought to be ashamed of yourself.” Instead: “When you choose to do that kind of thing, here’s the effect it has on people. Do you want to have that kind of effect on people?”
- “You did a good job on that.” This phrase doesn’t help. It’s praise. But it’s evaluative praise. It creates a praise junkie. It doesn’t encourage, motivate, develop self esteem. It creates a child who’s always seeking praise. Other ways to praise or better ways to say it are descriptive praise and appreciative praise. These develop the esteem from the inside so they don’t need to get it from outside. Descriptive praise – e.g. a child brings home cursive homework and says “Mommy look at this, didn’t I do a good job?” Be descriptive and say “Wow, look at all your letters… they’re all between the lines.” This gives them the chance to evaluate themselves and say for themselves ‘I did good.’ They did their own evaluation. Appreciative praise – e.g. “Thank you for helping me carry in those groceries. I was able to get dinner started 15 minutes earlier.” The child feels good – the evaluation comes from within. A combined example would be “Wow, there were leaves all over the lawn before I left, and now the grass is cleared and I see three bags of leaves. Thank you. You really saved me from bothering my back injury.” Another example is to say “You got it” rather than “Good job.” Don’t say good job, let them say it to themselves. This is the hardest one to do and most parents will have to check themselves.
- “Check it out inside” -This helps them discover the wise part within. It teaches them to trust their gut, open yourself to hear messages from God, etc. “Give it the tummy test” is how you’d say it to a younger child. This phrase gets them to understand that fearful, nervous feeling that is trying to tell them something is not ok.
- “Because I said so.” – This portrays ‘I’m the boss and you’re nothing; I’m big and you’re little.’ That is not a good message. It typically happens out of frustration from repeated asking by the child. Instead say: “You asked me this six times already. Obviously you don’t like the answer because you keep asking. And, that’s ok. You don’t have to like my answer. So, what are your choices? I’m not going to change my mind. You can choose to not like it, or you can choose something else.”
- “Tell her/him you’re sorry.” -This is not good, because usually the kid is not sorry. (If kid is truly sorry, it’s ok). It’s also too easy and they’re not learning anything. It’s not good enough. Instead, have them say “This is what I learned and this is what I intend to do next time. Next time I’m going to…” Also, always go to the victim first and show empathy. Model this behavior. “Wow, I’m sure that hurt. Look at that bump.” You’re talking to the victim, but you’re really talking to the one who did it. Once a child does apologize, never make the other child say “That’s ok” because it’s not ok for someone to hit and we don’t want to teach that it is.
- Counting “One, two, three…” -If you want your child to clean his room, and you tell him so, but he doesn’t get to it. After about nine different ways of saying “Clean your room,” you decide to try to counting the one, two, three thing. By doing this, you teach your child they don’t have to move a finger and can ignore you until you start counting. They think you’re not serious yet until you start counting. Show them you’re serious the first time. Do this by talking less and acting more. Give them choices. e.g. “Pick up your toys because I need to walk through here with a box of stuff and don’t want to hurt myself.” They don’t do it. Then say “I see you’ve chosen to not pick these things up. You have two choices. You can pick them up, or I can pick them up. You can pick them up in the next ten minutes and have them to play with for the next week, or I can pick them up and you won’t have them for the next week.”
- Describe, describe, describe -1. Describe what you see/the situation (I see you left your mitt outside in the rain. This is a fact and states nothing about the child). 2. Describe what you feel (“I feel angry” – not “That makes me angry”). 3. Describe what the end product needs to look like (“Baseball gloves belong in the garage.”) If they choose to still not get the glove… tell them you’ll take care of it. And, they won’t like what your plan is, so they’ll most likely act.
- “Rules” – Families have “rules” but we shouldn’t call them rules. We should call them Healthy Limits. Child asks “Why do I need to go to bed at 8?” You reply “Because we have Healthy Limits.” “Why can’t I drink pop?” “Because we have a healthy limit.” These are not rules, these are healthy limits. It’s a lot easier to debate rules than it is to go against something that is healthy.
- One last tip comes in handy when you’re looking to put an end to whining, making, pouting… Rather than saying “Stop whining/making excuses, etc. try the One minute behavior modifier – You have to get through all these steps in one take. Don’t give children a chance to interrupt. If they somehow interrupt, go back and say it again.
Part 1: First thing you do is name the child and name the behavior. “Johnny, that’s excuse giving/whining/pouting.” (don’t say “Stop whining”)
Part 2: “That doesn’t work with me.”
Part 3: “Because ___________.” You need to state why. e.g. “Because it hurts my ears and I can’t even tell what’s the truth.”
Part 4: Teach them the new appropriate behavior. “What works for me is _______________. e.g for whining: What works for me is if you ask for it nicely.
If they do it again, you go through the steps again.
If you get to that point where it has been heard too many times and loses it’s effectiveness, and you’re frustrated, move onto consequences. “If you choose to continue making excuses, here is where we go if we choose to make excuses. Sit over here.” Keep modeling the ‘I like you, I don’t like that behavior’ concept.