A three phrase parenting strategy any parent can do.
We have all been there. Our kids have defeated us, and we sit on the bathroom floor (possibly crying) because we honestly don’t know what to do next. How do we get our kids out the door without yelling? Why do our kids never seem to remember the question they asked 4.57 minutes ago? And why, for-the-love-of-all-things-holy, can’t they just get along?!
I want you to know, you aren’t alone. Parenting is hard and we don’t give ourselves enough credit for the great work we do. However, any parent will tell you they have something they need to improve on. It may be they need to spend more quality time with their kids or just want to stop barking orders at their kids.
If you are looking for ways to improve your parenting skills, you have come to the right place! Three simple phrases that will reduce stress by changing the way you talk to your kids.
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For example, from the time they were itty-bitty my kids have not had a problem listening to me. We implemented a technique from Jo Frost or “Supernanny” where when we were out for a walk the kids could walk or run ahead of us as long as they understood they were to freeze in place when we would yell STOP! It allowed them freedom and indolence and we were still able to keep them safe. Win-win!
Our kids were always good listeners in regards to things that were direct and to the point. As they have gotten older, they are still good listeners but are more adamant when the question they have asked isn’t what they want to hear or they are testing their boundaries. Either way, it becomes frustrating.
Luckily I have found a sort of parenting “hack” which includes 6 magic words: asked/answered, when/then, either/or. These certainly aren’t hacks in the sense that you do them once and they work perfectly. They do take a little practice. (I swear asked/answered is a daily occurrence in our house.) These techniques need to be established and explained to your kids for them to work best. It is, however, a hack in the sense that they are short simple phrases to help you throughout your day. It hasn’t solved all my parenting dilemmas but I feel much more confident in our day-to-day life.
If your child is constantly negotiating with you, I suggest you start with this tip. You know what I am referring to. You answer your child’s question only to have them come back 10 minutes later to ask again, hoping that it will lead to different results! Or they say they “forgot” your answer.
An example from our home is my oldest asking to go to McDonald’s for lunch. I reply by saying “No, we don’t have any money left if the restaurant budget.” And naturally she will ask a half an hour later, “Can we have McDonalds for lunch?” I reply with “asked and answered.” That’s it. No call back to my earlier reasoning. The first time you implement this tool you will need to say something along the lines of “You asked me this already. I answered. I’m not going to change my mind simply because you keep asking over and over.” This sets a precedent for you to be able to reply “asked and answered” anytime they try to negotiate or simply know the answer to the question they have asked.
Hi my name is Katie, and I have a dawdler. If you have one too, then this technique is perfect for you. Amy McCready, founder of Positive Parenting Solutions, was where I first heard of this technique, and she designed it to help reduce power struggles and yelling. I have found it so helpful for kids who need help remembering a routine or who get off track easily. It is a simple statement “When you do X, then you can do Y.”
For example, my older daughter is an early riser and is always up, ready, and playing before my youngest even has breakfast. We have a morning routine: breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth, floss, and brush hair. Then you can play. My youngest gets distracted by her older sister playing and it can take her hours to complete on her morning list. I simply prompt her by saying “When you are done with your routine, then you can go and play.” It’s simple, direct, and to the point. It also works wonders if your children constantly nag you, ”When we are done with lunch, then we can go to the park.”
Listening to your children fight is a giant part of not only being a parent, but also a homeschool parent. Add the fact that we are a mostly unschooling family, and I spend so much of my day listening to fights and bickering about what to play next. Either/Or the rescue! This statement is perfect for encouraging cooperation from and between your kids. “Either you do X, or you can do Y.”
I think this is my favorite. Your kids have a choice between two things, both of which are acceptable to you. For example, my daughters were arguing about what they wanted to play next. I approached them and said “Either you play nicely inside with inside voices or you go outside.” I will be honest, I didn’t think it would work. I totally expected a “I don’t want to do either of those,” but praise Odin it worked like rain!! It was a gentle reminder they shouldn’t be yelling in the house. If you feel wild and silly, outside is the place to do that.
This technique is also great for youngsters who are going through the “I can do it myself stage,” but they really can’t. “Would you like to put your coat on first or your boots?” It gives both parent and child a sense of control in a chaotic environment.
Check out these posts for more parenting strategies!
- How To Implement House Rules
- How to Organize a Routine With Young Children
- 5 Postitive Parenting Books
Obviously, I’m not a parenting or psychology expert. I wanted to share with you some real life examples of how these statements have helped my family. For more information, check out my post for 5 positive parenting books.
What I love most about all these techniques is it keeps you in check as a parent. You will no longer feel like you are constantly lecturing or yelling about the incessant questions, demands, fights, negotiations, and dilly-dallying that happens in your home. It’s so easy to fly off the handle and over explain all of our reasoning to our kids, but with the 6-word parenting hack, you will find yourself speaking much more precise and lecturing less.