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Home » Positive Ways to Talk and Listen »

Listen to Yourself Talk


What You Say... Dad: Pick up your toys. What they hear... Boy: PICK UP YOUR TOYS!! Why is Dad yelling at me?

Your Tone Speaks Louder Than Your Words

"If your tone and words are in sync you are giving a clear message. If there is a discrepancy, your child may wonder, 'What do you really mean?' If you are saying angry words without emotional conviction, it's confusing. Your child may wonder what is really bothering you."

Susanna Neumann, Ph.D.

Child Psychoanalyst, Consultant, Rockefeller University

Listen to your tone instead of your words. At times, it's not what say, but the way you say it that makes an impact. Kids sense what their parents are feeling. Often, they are not listening to your words so much as looking at your face and reacting to the tone of your voice.

Talk to your child as though you're composing a song. "Parent-child communication is composed of both music and lyrics," comments Michael Thompson. "When someone listens to music, he may focus on either the melody or on the lyrics. Children are always listening to the melody (or tone) of a parent's voice. Unfortunately, we, the parents, are often paying more attention to our lyrics."

Listen to yourself from your child's perspective. If you feel a conflict brewing, ask yourself, "Would I like to be spoken to this way?" If you don't like the way you sound, ask yourself, "Am I mad about something without realizing it?"

NEXT: Ask Real Questions

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