Maybe it’s just the friends I have on Facebook, but I’ve been seeing a lot of links to text and images that purport to help you raise a happy kid by changing the way you communicate with them. For example, instead of berating them when they spill food, you stay calm and say it needs to be cleaned up. Or avoid belittling their feelings.
There is a common thread in all these tips. I realised that when I was thinking, There’s no way I’d be able to remember even the basic gist of responses to endless testing situations. So here is a basic rule of thumb when dealing with your children, even the very small ones*:
Stay calm, as much as possible, and do not talk down to your kids.
That’s it. Speak to them the way you’d prefer to be spoken to. I’ve never had the patience to do anything like childminding or teaching, but kids tend to like me, and I reckon it’s because I talk to them in a normal voice, using normal words and sentence construction. Also, physically get down to their level and talk to them face to face. It helps immensely.
* The Husband and myself — and millions of other parents, I’m sure — believe that our babies and toddlers understand a lot more than they let on.