Compassionate Parenting - Specific Statements over Vague Vents

It is important to be specific about what you want from your child.


"Would you please pick up the game you left in the living room?" is specific and doable.

"Stop being such a slob" lets your child know what label you give his/her behavior. However, it doesn't give the information s/he can use to specifically meet your needs for order.

Giving children general statements and requests give them nothing to improve on. They won’t know what it is they’ve done wrong, or what they’ve done right. Blanket statements made in frustration or under duress can make the situation worse. They won’t understand what the problem is, or how to fix it. Children, like adults, don’t like to be a source of disappointment and generally want to see those around them in positive spirits. This is difficult if they don’t know what is causing the stress or frustration, or how to improve the situation.

Consider you are at work and your supervisor tells you that you do sloppy work. How do you feel? Do you know what needs to be improved on, or do you feel personally attacked by the words? When you use non-specific criticism, the receiver will often take it as a personal attack, and that can lead to lowered self-confidence and feelings of insufficiency. Consider instead that your supervisor tells you that your filing system is difficult to understand and he or she has a hard time finding files that you have put away. Now you know what the problem is and how it’s affecting those you are working with. You have something specific that needs improvement, and you will be able to take specific steps to improve the situation.

Open and honest communication is an essential part of having a productive and beneficial relationship with those around you, and using non-specific attacks to vent your frustration will only lead to further negativity. Opt instead to speak positively and specifically about things that bother you or that you think need adjustment.

If your child is constantly leaving their toys out where you step on them or kick them accidentally, sit them down and inform them that their toys are going to get broken and end up in the garbage if they continue to leave them out. Explain that leaving toys out leads to them getting kicked under couches, or stepped on, which leads to them being lost or broken. This will let them know that there is a direct natural consequence to leaving their belongings out on the floor, as well as informing them that it is dangerous for those who use the area.

Taking the time to be specific about your complaints instead of tossing out broad, general, and sometimes harsh complaints will lead to improved communication in your daily interactions and more open relationships with those around you. People will feel more able to talk to you without worrying about being bombarded with harsh personal attacks or non-specific venting that they may take personally. They will be able to take you at your word, and be able to understand what you are trying to tell them. They will also be more likely to improve their own communication skills as they will mimic that which affects them positively.

You are the master of your own words, so make each and every one of them count towards improving your situation, and by default the situation of those around you. Positive, effective communication is possible, one conversation at a time.

2 comments:

forestwalk/laura k said...

oh yeah...THINK before opening mouth! THINK about a more positive way to say things. being compassionate...making someone else feel good...makes ME feel good!
nice post...words to listen to... :]

Laura Kaeding said...

Thank you, I am hoping that more people discover (or rediscover) the value of compassion and generally being nice to others. It would be a pleasant thing to see. Go out there and feel good!