As parents, we love our kids. That’s why we work so hard to ensure they have a healthy start and the best dental care possible! But sometimes, communicating with our kids can be a challenge and we run out of good ideas.
As parents of little ones, we understand how frustrating it is to try and convince a toddler to keep his shoes on in the short car ride from home to the grocery store, or to not fling food across the room like you requested (for the millionth time). The problem is that kids often interpret our exasperation before our logic, meaning it’s not bringing out the best in us, or them.
So what’s a parent to do without losing your mind in frustration or impatience? We aren’t experts but we’re certainly in the same boat! In working with children, there are some tricks to the trade we’ve learned both as parents and pediatric specialist to sway the little ones in your favor!
1. Throw away the cookie cutter. Things that inspire some kids don’t work with others, so you have to think outside the box. Especially if you have multiple kids, this is important to remember. Change up the game plan! Be willing to try new things.
2. When all else fails, read a book to them. Your undivided, pure attention is often what your child seeks. You know they need it when all they’re saying is “Mom, mom, mom, mom…”
3. Mine for other parents’ wisdom. Ask other parents or people you trust and respect, “What did you like about what your parents said and did?” You might be surprised, in a good way!
4. Don’t forget to express gratitude in front of your children. Share what you’re grateful for and ask them regularly, “What are you grateful for?”
5. Take some time to self-evaluate. Are there possibly negative behaviors you are unintentionally demonstrating to your kids? Nobody’s perfect and there’s even a lesson for your kids when you admit mistakes.
6. Positivity is momentum; it builds on itself. Reinforce the qualities and behaviors you want to see in your child. Notice the even the small, positive things your kids say and do and encourage it.
7. Give the issue some space and return to it later. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and sometimes we’re too “progress-fixated” to see that some behaviors in children are an ebb-and-flow of natural outcomes throughout the day.
8. Pay attention to your tone just as much as what you’re saying. The non-verbal cues communicate more than we realize to a child. Speak in a way that communicates what you want them to model to you, whether that’s patience, respect, or understanding.
9. Love unconditionally and without strings attached. We all have bad days and on those days, it means more when someone is loving toward us, even after messing up big-time. The same is true for kids.
10. Heed the almighty nap. Naps have a great and mysterious way of ironing out some of the kinks in your child’s mood. Try as best you can to keep them on a schedule, and most importantly, to retain your hour or so of quiet!
* Perhaps the most important of all (but we don’t want to throw off our handy, even-numbered list):
LISTEN. We often skip this step, but many times, kids will tell you what the problem is if they are given an audience. Get on their level. Seek to understand. It’s amazing what this simple tool can show you when you slow down a bit to interpret what is going on, instead of assuming you already know.
That about sums it up! We care for your child’s health in a holistic sense. If you ever have questions about easing your child’s nerves before a first appointment, feel free to give us a call or click the link for more helpful info. Deschutes Pediatric is here for you!