Mum’s life: making yourself heard

Mum’s life: making yourself heard

We all have household clashes from time to time, but how can you soothe an argument between two kids or persuade your teenager to do the chores? Here are a few handy tips.

The first time your baby wriggled himself free of the car seat straps all those years ago you knew being a mum was going to demand your finest negotiating skills from that day on… however, without thinking about it, most of us have crafted our diplomatic tricks in the years ever since. That doesn’t mean we live in peaceful homes where the dishes are washed at the first time of asking, or that we never lose our cool when the dinner’s burning and someone’s turned the TV up too loud – but if we stand back and think about it, we can probably pull a few tricks out of the bag to stay in control.

Top Tips for Making Yourself Heard

Have a goal
Know what you want before you walk into a conversation. This applies just as much to taking something back to a shop as it does asking a 13-year-old to mop up the watery mess he’s just left in the bathroom. Do you want someone to say sorry for a bad deed, to find a way to solve a problem, or to complete a task? If you want your money back for a faulty kettle then you give a brief explanation of the problem and tell the shopkeeper what you’d like to happen next. In advance, think about what options the shopkeeper might come back with and have your answers ready so that you can stick to your guns. The same goes for a request to your child – if you need something to be done, make this goal clear.

Keep it simple and clear
In life you’ll find that the more you talk, the less they hear! Once you have made your point, stop talking. How easy is it to say, ‘Oh I didn’t understand you,’ if someone chatters and you don’t really want to hear the details of what they’re saying. Repeat your clear, simple request if you have to, but you don’t have to keep saying the same thing over again like a parrot. Instead, listen to yourself and make sure that your key message isn’t getting lost in unnecessary explanations of why or how you want the job done or the issue resolved. Filling the conversation with these extra details gives the other person the chance to find excuses or distractions in what has been said.

Silence is golden
If you are trying to make your point and your teenager or child is filling the air with a million reasons why you are wrong or why they can’t hang the washing out at that particular moment, stop talking, stand back from the conversation/argument and let the other person hear himself. His defences will soon lose their impact if you made some pretty compelling arguments. It’s not about sulking or walking away, it’s about stopping and listening to what the other person has to say – it’s a powerful tool!


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Be consistent
Don’t send out mixed messages. If you usually say it’s OK to watch TV until 10pm and suddenly you’re trying to get your child to sleep at 9pm you may find that this will most likely get ignored. After all, mum usually lets us stay up, so this new rule will probably be forgotten soon.
Don’t request something then walk away and give in. Make it clear that you have a new rule or a new intention and this is the way you’re going to follow it up every night from now on.

Don’t offer an escape route
Think about how you are asking for a task to be done. If you say, ‘Can you tidy your bedroom?’ what person in their right mind would say, ‘Yes please!’ Instead, remind your child that his room needs to be tidied ‘today’ or ‘before tea’ or ‘before you go out’.

Offer the initiative
Although it’s important not to provide your child with the perfect excuse to ignore or escape your request, you can give her options that will still result in the task being carried out. Older children and teenagers deserve to have their own ideas and sense of responsibility recognised, so perhaps ask when they think the best time will be to get their bedroom tidied today, or what they might need – such as extra boxes from the garage, or a bin liner for extra rubbish. Your request should presume that the task WILL be done, but there is room for the personal choice about how it is completed to be theirs.

Be confident and cool
There is no need to get angry if you are in the right. Whether you are trying to soothe two arguing children or you are trying to get your daughter to do her homework, be clear and explain how you feel and why you expect the matter to be resolved. Have faith in your own judgement but also show you believe that your child is capable of making the right decision too.

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