I wanted to share a parenting technique with you moms that have toddlers and preschoolers (and I use it with my older kids too). I learned this strategy on the Dr. Phil show years ago and it has been helpful to me as I have dealt with tantrums over the years.
I call it “I Hear You.”
I like to pull out the “I Hear You” technique whenever my kids want something, but I have told them they can’t have it, but they think if they cry long enough or loud enough then I will give in.
Here is a common scenario:
Your child wants a piece of candy, but you have said no. He keeps crying and bawling and trying to get it. So you say, “I hear you. You want a piece of candy.” He keeps screaming. You say, “I know. You want candy. I hear you.” or ” I hear you. You want candy. I am still not going to give you a piece, but I hear you.”
This back and forth dialogue may go on for a few minutes. And it is important to note that the three words “I Hear You” are delivered with gentleness and empathy. They are not shouted or barked.
I like the “I Hear You” method because you are basically validating your children and letting them know that you are listening and you are aware of their wants, but you do not give in. I also like this method because I don’t feel powerless. “I Hear You” helps me feel in control and it helps me keep my temper. I know what to say or do instead of getting really frustrated.
Here are some examples of the “I Hear You” technique used at our house recently:
“I hear you, you don’t want to go to school.”
“I hear you, you want to watch High School Musical.”
“I hear you, you want to play with a friend.”
“I hear you, you want chocolate milk.”
“I hear you, you want to stay in the tub.”
I initially thought I would only use the “I Hear You” strategy with my toddlers and preschoolers, but I find it helpful with my older kids as well. I just tweak the technique a bit- I do a little more explaining and talking.
For example, last weekend my son wanted to play at his cousin’s house, but I said no for many good reasons. Crew started crying and begging and giving me all kind of reasons. I replied, “I hear you. You want to play at Evan’s.” But since Crew is older and understands more I continued to repeat his arguments back to him. “I hear you. You want to play at Evan’s. I know. You love his basketball hoop. You haven’t played with him for a long time. You want to go to Evan’s. I hear you.” Crew eventually gave up.
To be honest, I don’ t know if “I Hear You” shortens the length of the tantrums, but I do know it helps me stay patient and under control and I feel like my kids know I am listening.