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Pausing before speaking has lots of benefits for communication.

Give yourself a moment to think about what your child is asking. Even if your final answer will still be ‘no’, you might say, ‘Let me think about what you’re saying for a minute and get back to you’.

Pause to consider your child’s question. This forces you to slow down and helps you not to make a snap judgment, even if the answer is, ‘No, we are not getting a dog because we live in a unit and don’t have a place for a dog to play’. Pausing makes your child feel heard, because you have stopped to consider your child’s opinion. It also diminishes the chances of a power struggle.

Share your thinking out loud. Your children will enjoy being included in your thought processes. If your child asks for a sleepover, you might say, ‘I know you want a sleepover, but your grandmother might want to see you this weekend when she visits. Let me talk to her’. In this way your child knows how you arrive at your decision.

Pause, then consider your child’s idea
Just taking the time to stop and consider your child’s idea can make an enormous difference. And don’t be afraid to be wrong. Kids love correcting their parents. There is an enormous pressure parents feel to ‘be right’ and that’s just not necessary.
– Michael Thompson, PhD, co-author of Raising Cain
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  • Last updated or reviewed 26-05-2010
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    © 2002-2006 Public Broadcasting Service.  Reprinted from with permission of the Public Broadcasting Service.