How To Talk So Your Traumatized Kids Will Listen (More of the Time)

Dear Parents:

How we talk with kids has a direct impact on how our kids listen and learn from us. Be the voice you want to hear in your home.  Okay, that was a bad twist on Gandhi, but it applies. There are lots of ways parents talk to kids. Here are a few ways I see and have definitely heard coming out of my own mouth.

Flipped Lid Parent:  Yells a lot.  Aggressively makes demands out of frustration and gets ignored, played off, shut down, feared, or yelled at back.

Nervous Nitty Parent Tentative and weak.  Passively makes requests by asking for compliance, begging, pleading, giving up, and giving in.  Often gets ignored completely, disregarded, and rolled over by children.

YoNoGo Parent: Nice sometimes; angry and demanding sometimes.  Scares children with unpredictability and gets random disorganized responses in return.

Crystal Clear Parent: Clear, simple, direct, warm, firm, positive and confident all wrapped up in one. Leads children; shares power; and children feel safe and ready to listen.


Where do you fall most often?

The Attach Place

The Attach Place
Center for Strengthening Relationships

Here are a few things to make yourself more Crystal.

  1. First, get your child’s attention by lovingly saying his/her name.
  2. Use connection skills–soft eyes, inviting expression, open arms, firm tone, kind words.
  3. Tell your children what you want them to do in a firm voice, rather than what not to do in any voice.
  4. Model respectful tones and words: “Tim, please take your shoes to your room” vs. “Take your damned shoes to your room, Tim!”
  5. Nag not, want not. Nagging brings about deafness in children and teens.  Keep it simple, short, sweet, and clear. Use routines, poster boards, process steps, signs, and reminder stickers.  These actually can work.  All you have to do is smile and point.
  6. Help your children understand the why in your request before they have a chance to why you to death. Everyone feels more cooperative when they understand.
  7. If you yell, your kids will. If your kids yell, don’t.  Just that simple.
  8. Make chit chatting a priority with your kids. If they don’t talk or only give you shrugs for answers, it may be more about how you are talking and what you are talking about that has you pulling teeth. Listen to their stories and to what they care about for longer than 5 minutes and avoid fake listening.  Everyone knows when you don’t care and when you aren’t really listening; everyone, no matter how young or old.
  9. Ask open ended questions if you want more than a yes/no answer. Did you have a good day today at school?  Yes/No.  What happened at school that you liked today?  This requires a sentence, even if it is I don’t know.
  10. Create device free zones: dinner table, game night, visits with grandparents. That goes for parents, too.

Chose just one thing to change and you will be on your way to being a Crystal Clear Parent.  Take it away.

Love matters,


NEXT CLASS:  Therapeutic Parenting Class for Foster and Adoptive Parents is scheduled for June 24th, 2017 from 9am to 4pm.  Register here.

NEXT GROUP:  Join our monthly Adoptive/Foster Parent Support Group on June 14th, 2017! Open to all parents/caregivers at no cost. Support Group is every 2nd Wednesday of every month from 6pm to 8pm at 3336 Bradshaw Road, Ste 175, Sacramento, CA 95827. Free child care provided.

Get your specially discounted copy of Drowning With My Hair On Fire: Insanity Relief For Adoptive Parents by Ce Eshelman, LMFT.  Daily inspirational reading for those who sometimes find it hard to keep hope alive. There is hope for healing.

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