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Dr Mani Pavuluri Blog

Let’s be Kind

Easier Ways to Talk to Your Children: Hop on Stepping-Stones, Avoid Swamps

A quick tip that is so simple yet barely practiced. It is told in so many ways by so many experts or let us say, many wise folk.

If you want to pull out your children from being entangled in fights with you, and shape a healthy relationship, just stay highly focused. The vision I want you to hold in your mind is hop forward on stepping-stones, and avoid swamps. 

Difficult children are basically anxious, irritable, impulsive and rigid, similar to difficult grownups around us.  It basically applies to dealing with all difficult people! Remember again- “the AIIR”= anxious, irritable, impulsive, rigid folk. Not all are full of such “AIR,” but they tend to be reactive even if they have one or two excessive issues among these quadruple traits.

Hopping on the stepping-stones is similar to gingerly catching them doing good and appreciating what you witness. It will lower their defenses, keep their guard down, does not kindle reactivity, and aggravate their perception of “you are yelling at me” even if you are giving gentle suggestion. There is a method to it: WHAT=what you saw that was so wonderful; HOW= Describe the action detail/anatomy of how they carried out so well; WHY= the reason why this is so useful or awesome. Such positive feedback will make things solidify, consolidate and form the foundation. Now think of examples you come across and have fun giving such feedback, at least at such depth on several more occasions.

Avoid swamps that you could be dragged into, i.e., arguments and negativity, as it can be slippery slope. Why bother when there is an easier way.

Basically, generating and maintaining good mood is positive currency to inject values.

It is just a task. Don’t over think. Keep it simple. Mindful. With surgical precision. No excessive emotion. No need to go into overdrive. It is too much burden anyway on our memory. Keep it low key. You can take the pressure and go on to be disciplined.

See, if you are teaching to do a chore in case of a difficult kid, instruct gently by asking or suggesting, give wide margin of time, say phrases like “no rush,” but that it would be great if they can do it, and timing must be right to be that coach! I see time and again that difficult kids don’t like responsibility and “feel the pressure” for small things. There is a way to circumvent that perception of pressure and yet drag them along to participate. You can (when time is right) ask them what consequences would they like if they don’t comply. Make them think. Create a white board of chores with them. Keep up the structure of routine. If things fail, say that while it is disappointing, you are expecting that things would be awesome next time around, next day and so on.

Most important point: Don’t make your children be the center and be obsessed with shaping them. You demonstrate and live your normal life of joy with your spouse. You have fun alongside, with your partner. Very important to diffuse control issues emanating from children this way, while you are having quality life!


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