In my Early Childhood Education course were taught to use "I" statements. So instead of saying "ARE YOU CRAZY? GET THE FRICK DOWN OFF THAT TABLE!!!", we had to say "I'm worried you are going to hurt yourself standing on the table so please put your feet on the floor."
I admit, most of the tips and techniques we learned at school about dealing with children I don't use or were complete bullsh!t. Seriously, telling kids to "calm down and stay close to mummy" on a walk through the mall is a whole lot less effective than a pocketful of M&Ms, believe me. But this "I statement" thing has some merit. In fact I use it all the time. It seems to be becoming one of my "good cop" parenting strategies.
While Scott will give a (sometimes heated) 45 minute "bad cop" lecture to Elliott about being responsible, I'll swoop in later with the deadly cut of a quiet "I'm really disappointed in you." With the lecture you can actually see Elliott's eyes glaze over. His eyes take on the lustre of those big chunks of fruit you see on grocery store sponge cake. If the words were actually visible shooting from Scott's mouth to Elliott, they'd be bouncing off his afro with only about 10% getting through the curls.
My rapier sharp sentence, accompanied with a hangdog look and heavy sigh isn't much but I think that's the reason it gets in. Not that it completely works, judging from Elliott's constant state of ennui, but I mostly attribute that to being an average 13 year old boy. They're just not mentally equipped to deal with half the stuff we throw at them. I think we expect too much. The longer I live with a teen, the more I think we need to treat them as if they have a special need. Because let's be honest. They kind of do, don't they?
"I Statements" that I've used in just the past 2 days:
- I'm so disappointed in you
- I feel confused about what you need
- I want to help you (this came dangerously close to "help me help you" which wouldn't have come out with a straight face.
- I feel sad when you don't talk to me
- I'm scared about what will happen to you in high school