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How to Communicate with Children of Different Ages

We've all seen those silly situations where Grandma and Grandpa and mom and dad are going at the baby and, "Oh, you're so sweet, little sweetheart." We've seen all of that. And people wonder surely there's got to be a different way to talk to different ages of children. 

Well, that's what we're going to talk about today. I work with children of all different ages have so for years and I can work through any behavior problem with you. Today, we're going to talk about how to talk to children of any age. 

When I started doing foster care for troubled teens ages 12 to 18 that came to my home, I thought that I would have to do something different with my own children which were ages 3 and 1 at the time I was doing the treatment care for these teenagers. 

But I was surprised to find out that the same skills, the same words, the same type of parenting were equally applicable. In fact, my younger children sometimes responded to the very direct more mature communication that I was using for the older foster children better than they did to more simplified parenting. 

This amazed me. So, when people think that one type of parenting won't work for another aged child, it's not necessarily true. This sounds really great. In fact, I think I could use it when my children are older. But what do I do when they're younger? How do I correct them? How do I talk to them when they're younger? And I'll look at them and I'll say, "Well, I started using this when my children were 3 and 1." And my younger children have never known any other way of parenting. It works just the same for younger children as it does for teenagers. 

That usually amazes people actually because they feel like it's got to be different, there are different ages. So, what does have to be different? I think we need to recognize their developmental levels. They can go deeper when they're older. Sometimes the words need to be a little bit more simplified when children are younger. But the tone of the words and the content can actually remain the same. Here are 5 tips that you can use when you communicate with children of any age. 

Tips Number 1: Have A Calm Voice Tone 

Be calm. That tone teaches more to the child than any of the words that you'll say. So, that's why lectures don't work. You need to come across as calm, confident, understanding. All of these things can be wrapped in that word calmness. 

Have calmness. That's number one. I want you to analyze your voice do you usually speak more animatedly, do you use facial expressions, hand gestures? What is your normal way of talking to people? When you're working on picking a calm voice tone, you don't have to be boring saying hardly anything. 

That's not calm. That's actually overly focused on being flat. Calm is being free, confident. But it also feels warm and round. So, when I'm being energetic, I talk like this. But when I'm being calm, I pull it back into my chest and I talk like this. I hope you can hear the difference. 

That calm voice doesn't just work for them. It also works for me. I don't want to go out of control. The voice helps calm me down. Pick a calm voice tone. Use it and then when you need to be animated, be excited. That's number one. 

Tips Number 2: Say Fewer Words 

There is no need to lecture. Lectures are not effective. Remember that. You should be able to get your point across in 30 seconds. Whatever you say to the child, pick carefully the words that will make the biggest impact and then leave the rest. Unless they ask questions or want more discussion about the topic. Pick fewer words, stay away from lectures. That's number 2. 

Your children no matter the age can learn the same skills. The 4 basic skills that I teach children are following instructions, accepting no answers, accepting consequences, and disagreeing appropriately. These books right here, these children's books, teach those four basic skills. 

This one, Porter Earns a Quarter teaches accepting no answers and criticism. That's the same skill. Everyone needs these skills. In fact, adults need these skills. Don't you wish when you were driving through traffic and someone was hollering at somebody else out the window or sending out a hand gesture to somebody out the window but they knew how to accept a no answer? When someone cuts you off in traffic, that's a no answer. 

You didn't want to be cut off in traffic, you wanted to go a different direction. You didn't get to because something happened. That's a no answer. So, how do you accept a no answer? You look at the person, keep a calm face voice, and body. Say, "okay" or ask to disagree appropriately. And giving somebody a hand gesture out of your car is not disagreeing appropriately. 

Tips Number: 3 Drop The Subject

Which means you don't talk about it anymore. If a person learns all 4 of these four basic skills, that takes care of 99% of their behavioral problems. And guess what? Little children can learn these skills. Little toddlers can learn how to accept no answers, follow instructions. I have even heard 2-year-olds disagree appropriately which is the most difficult of the 4 basic skills. 

Teach these to your children. Obviously the older they are, the quicker they'll pick them up. But the small children can do it too. They'll never remember a time not knowing how to follow an instruction, except, a consequence or disagree appropriately. 

Tips Number: 4 Have Meetings

A self-governing family is deliberate. And I am all about self-government. In fact, that's what I'm known for all around the world. So, what is self-government? Self-government is being able to determine the cause and effect of any given situation and possessing a knowledge of your own behaviors so that you can control them. 

This means you plan exactly how you will behave and then you follow up on it and see how you did and if you need to make improvements for the future. This book right here Parenting: A House United which is my main book teaches how to set up an environment so the family can learn self-government. In this book, we talk about three different meetings that we have as a family. 

In fact, here are our meeting journals. We have family meetings, we have couples meetings. And then each child has their own individual mentor meeting journal. In these meetings, we discuss how we're doing at our family goals. Who we are becoming and how we solve our problems as a family. 

This is a time for the family to get on the same page and to rejuvenate, energized, and prepare to do better. When you are communicating with your children, you've got to have a time where you check up with them. These are good times to praise each other and to plan for future fun times as a family as well. That's tip number 4. 

Tips Number 5: Connect

Look into their eyes and look into their heart. This is where real transformation takes place. If a person's going to learn self-government, they have to choose it. You can't make them self-governing. A person who is self-governed has had a change of heart. They've decided, "I want to follow instructions. I want to accept no answers. I want to disagree appropriately and accept consequences because I want to improve. 

I want my family to improve." It's a point where they make an investment in themselves and their future and in the future of the family too. When you look into the eyes of a person, you can see into their heart. When my children are getting praised, I look in their eyes and I say, "Wow, you did such a wonderful job. You looked right at me. 

You kept a calm face voice and body. You said okay. You did the task immediately and then checked back. You're doing a great job of following instructions." And when I look into their heart, I'm thinking, "I love you. I love you in that moment of praise." I do the very same thing when I'm correcting them. I look at them and say... If they didn't follow instructions, "Just now, I gave you an instruction and you didn't look at me. You didn't keep a calm face, voice, and body. 

Say okay, do the task immediately or check back. When you don't look at me or keep a calm face voice and body, I know that you're not choosing to respect me and that you're wanting to take more time to discuss these behaviors." What you should have done was you should have looked at the person kept a calm face voice and body. 

Said, "Okay, or asked to disagree appropriately. Done the task immediately and then check back. Since you chose not to do that, you've earned an extra chore, okay?" That's the first part of a correction. The second part of a correction is the teaching and practice for future success. I'm not going to go into that right now but I just wanted you to see what a correction should feel like if a person is truly calm. 

If I'm looking in their eyes and I'm looking in their hearts thinking "I love you", it doesn't matter the age, their hearts will soften and transform. Even if they fight against you sometimes at first because they have a habit of fighting or being oppositional, that is the key tone element to the change of their heart. Some people need some help with their calmness. They want to be calm but it's really hard to master being calm when somebody else isn't and keeps pulling them into power struggles.

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