Just Tell Me What to Say: Sensible Tips and Scripts for Perplexed Parentsby Betsy Brown Braun
Parents are often perplexed by their children's typical behaviors and inevitable questions. This down-to-earth guide provides "Tips and Scripts" for handling everything from sibling rivalry and the food wars to questions about death, divorce, sex, and "whyyyy?" Betsy Brown Braun blends humor with her expertise as a child development specialist, popular/b>
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Parents are often perplexed by their children's typical behaviors and inevitable questions. This down-to-earth guide provides "Tips and Scripts" for handling everything from sibling rivalry and the food wars to questions about death, divorce, sex, and "whyyyy?" Betsy Brown Braun blends humor with her expertise as a child development specialist, popular parent educator, and mother of triplets. Whatever your dilemma or child's question—from "How did the baby get in your tummy?" to "What does 'dead' mean?" to "It's not fair!"—Betsy offers the tools and confidence you need to explain the world to your growing child.
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Just Tell Me What to Say
Sensible Tips and Scripts for Perplexed Parents
Small Talk Is Big Talk: Communicating with Your Children
Remember the television cartoon specials based on Charles Schulz's Peanuts? The parents, offscreen, were represented by the sound "Waaaaaaohh, waaaohh, waaaohhh." You couldn't see them, but you knew they were making that droning noise. Everyone remembers that because it struck a chord. It was a powerful representation of one kind of parent-child communication.
In reality, there are probably times when that "waaaohh" is exactly how your child is hearing you too. "It's time for dinner," you say. "Waaaoh waaaooh," she hears, and does nothing. "Let's clean up your toys," you suggest. "Waaaooh," she hears, and doesn't move.
This day-to-day communication helps to mold the adults your children will become. In order for communication to be more than "waaaoooh," to make a difference, it needs to be purposeful and deliberate. As the parent, you are the mirror reflecting to your child who she is. Your communication with her directly affects her growth, development, self-image, and her behavior. Knowing that should make you want to pay attention to how you are communicating.
The Talk about Talk
Along with love, food, and physical contact, talk is one of the ways that you nourish your children. The brain requires certain kinds of stimulation in order to develop fully. Talk is one of those kinds of stimulation. There is plenty of research evidence to support the finding that children who grow up in environments withouta lot of verbal interaction are disadvantaged in their development. Young children who are encouraged to share their comments, ideas, and opinions do better in school, in their social relationships, and in life.
Talking with children not only helps them to learn and grow but also gives you a window into their souls, who they are, and what they are thinking and feeling. It is through talk with and not at the child that the parent-child bond is enriched and strengthened.
But talk is just one of the four ways with which we communicate with children.
The Four Types of Communication
First and obviously, there is verbal communication. Included in this is everything that comes out of your mouth: the vocabulary you use, the tone of your voice, and the decibel level with which you are expressing yourself.
Next is your nonverbal language, which includes your physical proximity to the person with whom you are communicating, your body posture, your facial expression, your touch and its intensity, and the environment in which you are communicating.
An often-overlooked aspect of communication is listening. There are at least two players in any communication, and only one is the talker. The other is the listener, and the kind of listener you are sends a strong message in any communication with your child.
Finally, there is modeling, which is quite possibly the most powerful communication of all.
You are communicating and giving your children messages through everything that you do. Your children are always watching you, noticing what you do, absorbing what you say, and taking in how you behave. Actually, you may even be communicating more to your child when you are not talking directly to her than when you are. It is in those unselfconscious moments that you give powerful cues to your child about how to be in the world.
Cell phones offer a perfect example. You've just been lecturing your child about the evils of gossip. Suddenly, your cell phone rings. It's your best friend, who absolutely must tell you the latest dirt about your neighbor who has finally decided to leave her husband. Your child hears, "Oh my gosh, you've got to be kidding! . . . She what . . . ? When? . . . Oh no! I can't believe she would do that. . . . Who told you that? . . . I have to call Susan. . . . I'll call you back." Why do parents think that their children have suddenly been struck deaf when they talk on the phone? That phone conversation just sent a pretty clear message, and your actions superseded your previous admonitions about gossip.
The old adage "Do as I say, not as I do" might be a parent's dream, but it sure isn't reality. Your children are likely to do just as you do, sooner or later. You are your child's first and most powerful model. Believe it or not, many years from now, YOU are how your children will be. Or they might be the opposite, if they look back on what you did with disdain and disrespect.
"We don't read books at the breakfast table," is not liable to work if Daddy is reading the newspaper at the table.
"We treat our brother kindly," isn't going to happen when you are overheard screaming on the phone at Uncle Steve.
"We treat all people respectfully," will not be learned if you berate the service person who has kept you waiting for two hours.
Remember, your child is watching. You need to be the person you want your child to become. That takes awareness and focus.
Setting up Verbal Communication
Unlike your other relationships, the one you have with your child doesn't really have to be built. Mother Nature took care of that. From the moment of birth the foundation for that relationship is laid. Your infant cries, you hurry to pick her up; she's hungry, you run to feed her. You are there to meet all of her needs. As you do so, the trust between parent and infant grows. That is the beginning of communication.
Building on that early connection to your child, formed in part by your verbal communication, is one of the ways you affect your child's emotions and behavior. When your communication is meaningful and powerful, it feeds your child's trusting relationship with you and deepens your connection.
Research has shown that teens who seem to stay on the straight and narrow, who have a healthy social life and achieve well in school, usually also describe their relationship with their parents as being closer than the relationship their peers have with their parents. There must be a lot of conversations going on in those homes.Just Tell Me What to Say
Sensible Tips and Scripts for Perplexed Parents. Copyright © by Betsy Braun. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Meet the Author
Betsy Brown Braun is the bestselling author of Just Tell Me What to Say, a renowned child development and behavior specialist, popular parent educator, and mother of adult triplets. She is a frequent speaker at educational and business conferences, has been a guest expert on Today, the Early Show, Good Morning America, and NPR, and has been cited in USA Today, the New York Times, Family Circle, Parents, Parenting, Cookie, and Woman's Day, among other publications. As the founder of Parenting Pathways, Inc., Betsy offers private consulting and parent seminars as well. She and her husband live in Pacific Palisades, California.
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Not really a parenting book but more of a how to. Nice reference material and extremely helpful for those inevitable questions.
It probly would help for when ur not sure what to say.