Contributed by Julietta Skoog

I am a talker by nature. I always have been. In high school I was on the debate team, in college I was the one hogging the hallway phone, and later in life I married a quiet, patient man whom I do not have to compete with to continue my babbling. You can imagine the shock when my daughter did not say a single word (not even mama!) until over 21 months old. My mother said it was because she couldn’t get a word in edgewise.

Fortunately this does not carry over into my day job. As a school psychologist, I spend my day listening to children tell me their good news, bad news, and hopes. I know how therapeutic it is to let them be heard, and encourage them to “tell me more.” Then I go home and try to practice the art of listening with my own now chatty daughter. After all, if I am not listening to her, then how can I expect her to learn through my example? This simple Positive Discipline parenting tool from Jane Nelsen’s Positive Discipline Tool Cards* can have profound effects, and is titled Listen:

Children will listen to you AFTER they feel listened to.

1) Notice how often you interrupt, explain, defend your position, lecture or give a command when your child starts to talk to you.

2) Stop and just listen. It is okay to ask questions such as, “Can you give me an example?” or, “Is there anything else?”

3) When your child is finished, ask if he or she is willing to hear you.

4) After sharing, focus on a solution that works for both of you.

Try it out – see how it works for you.

*If you would like to have more tools to play with, the Positive Discipline Tool Cards are available as an iPhone or Android app or you can buy a deck of cards. You can also follow Jane Nelsen’s blog that focuses on a different parenting tool each week.

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