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Health & Parenting

Listening to Your Kids

Listening to your kids is a skill many parents may not have, but can easily acquire.
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Give your child space.

When your child begins answering you with one syllable answers, take a step back, Saltz says. "Ask them what they are feeling, which will hopefully help them reflect on why they are giving one syllable answers," she says. Then say, "I'd like to talk about it, but if you feel you cannot at this moment, we can regroup in a couple of hours or tomorrow."

Inspire your child.

"So often parents say 'don't get pregnant, don't get a sexually transmitted disease, and don't do drugs,' and those are three depressing conversations," points out Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a New York-based family and relationship counselor and host of The Learning Channel's Sholom in the Home.

"What inspiration would any kids take from those conversations?," asks Boteach, author of several books, including the forthcoming Sholom in the Home. "Instead, try to have inspiring conversations that give children a sense of what is important," says this father of eight. "When your kids come home, ask them what happened in school and have a story for them."

Don't yell.

"Be stern, but if you yell at kids that shows you are out-of-control and you create a non-peaceful environment," Boteach says. "There has to be a calm environment at home." Remember, that children thrive in stability. "Talk to your kids, give them strict rules, explain them, and punish children when necessary, but don't lose control and yell," he advises.

Emphasize the positive.

Make the positives equal the negatives, Kopta says. "People rarely change because of negative consequences, otherwise no one would smoke, drink or overeat," he tells WebMD. "It's not enough to tell a child not to smoke, drink, or take drugs unless you present alternative things to give them good feelings -- like sports, music, art, and relations with others.

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