Go Closer

When my three boys were little, my friend Liz (mother of four boys) taught me six valuable words:  “Raise your seat, not your voice.”

It’s a simple idea:  instead of yelling across the room (or up/down the stairs, or into the other room), raise your seat off the couch and go to where your child is.  When the kids were toddlers, this meant walking over to them, telling them “No,”  and relocating them.

I don’t recommend trying to relocate your teen; it will only make him mad, especially if he’s bigger than you are.  The teen version would be more like this:

“Son!  Did you do the dishes yet?”

“No!  I will as soon as I get to a save point in my game!”

A half hour passes with no sign of life in the kitchen.

 “How about those dishes!?”

“In a minute!  I just have to beat this level!”

At this point a frustrated parent may yell and threaten, which may or may not lead to the dishes being washed.

Instead, try walking into the room where your teen is.  If it’s a bedroom and your teen has earphones in, you can make eye contact, get her to remove the earphones, and state your request.  You also have the “power of presence,” which means she’ll be more motivated to honor your request just because you’re standing in front of her.

With the game-playing teen, you can walk into the room and watch to see when he gets to the save point.  You might even offer to take his place in the game (he’s not likely to accept).  You can also be annoying by commenting on the action: “Who’s that over there?  What’s that weapon you’re using?  How did you earn those points?”  It won’t be long before he’ll do the dishes just to get you out of there.

Or maybe you don’t yell – maybe you do what I used to do in our tri-level house:  text your kids in the other room.  The same principle applies if you don’t get an appropriate response; you put down the phone, stand up, and walk into the next room.

I’m all for avoiding a battle whenever possible.  In this case, you can avoid the battle – and burn a few extra calories while you’re at it.


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