My husband and I are reading a book called Just Tell Me What to Say by Betsy Brown Braun that our toddler’s pediatrician recommended. I’m only on the first few pages, but already I’ve gleaned a few insights on how we communicate with LO. There was a section about how parents communicate disrespectfully, and we stood guilty of three of those things:
Talking to another adult about the child as if he wasn’t there
We did this a lot. We would be at the dining table, and I would tell my husband, “Today LO played with his crayons!” Instead, we’re getting in the habit of saying, “LO, tell Daddy about how you colored with crayons today!” Or even, “LO, I’m going to tell Daddy about how you colored with crayons today…” then proceed to relay the story. I never considered this as disrespectful; in fact you think you’re doing the kid a service by relaying the great things he did. But no, it’s disrespectful because you would never do that to an adult. I would never sit at a table with my husband and mom and tell my husband, “My mom cooked an awesome meal today. She used my favorite ingredients and even sliced them up the way I like them. And she finished within an hour!”
Spelling in front of the child
Oh, boy… we are sure guilty of this one too. We’ve even had “code words” to communicate to each other without having our toddler hear. We’ve said, “L-O-V-E-Y” or even “his ‘L’.” Another one was “M-I-L-K.” I think even mouthing it in silence hoping the other parent can lip-read is disrespectful, like mouthing, “pumpkin pie.”
Laughing at the child instead of with the child
I don’t think we do this one often, but it’s come up, especially with other family members. For instance, when we chuckle at something our toddler says that’s cute but that he didn’t intend to be funny. I think when LO laughs at himself first, then it’s okay to laugh with him. And even then, we should continue to say, “Do you find that funny?” or “Why is that so funny?” So that we’re not laughing at his expense.
There are other disrespectful ways that parents communicate, but I didn’t find us too guilty of the others, such as: using a foreign language that is not intended for the child to acquire, name-calling (even in fun), telling embarrassing tales about them to other adults (especially when the child is clearly embarrassed or shy about it), sarcasm and teasing.
I like reading parenting books because they definitely keep you in check. The next section I’ll write about is praise. I’ve written about it before, but I’ve fallen off and need to quit my “good job”-ing and judgmental praise. More on that later.