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Clear Messages

Children are concrete thinkers; they don't grasp the full meaning of abstract or vague words. As teachers for our children, we need to be clear in our communication with them.

For example, instead of saying, "You are being naughty," try "You ran away from me when I asked you to do something." This gives your child specific information.

Parents must focus on our children's specific behavior: anything they do that can be seen, heard or measured.

Here are some specific descriptions of behavior:

"My daughter has to be called three times before she comes inside from playing."

"When my kids come home from school, they put their books away and ask if there's anything that needs to be done around the house."

In order to give clear messages, clearly and specifically tell your child what he or she did correctly or incorrectly.

How you give messages is also important. Here are several points to remember: 

  1. Have your child look at you.
  2. Look at your child. Eye contact is a key to giving and receiving clear messages.
  3. Use a voice tone that fits the situation.
  4. Eliminate as many distractions as possible.
  5. Try to position yourself so that you are at eye level with your child.

Let's compare a vague description of a child's behavior with a specific one:

Vague-"Reggie, don't eat like a pig!"
Specific-"Reggie, you're eating with your fingers and making grunting noises while you eat. Please use your folk, take small bites and don't make any noises."

The most important part of being specific when describing your children's misbehavior is making sure they understand that you dislike their behavior, not them.

You love your children: That's why you are taking the time to teach another way to behave.

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