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Children need to feel that you are taking their opinions seriously.

See the situation through your child’s eyes. You know how you feel when your boss or partner says, ‘That’s ridiculous’, or insists you really like something you know you hate? Kids feel the same way when parents say, ‘You don’t really mean that’ or ‘I can’t believe you said that!’

Acknowledge your child’s feelings. In response to your child’s statement, you might simply say, ‘I’m glad to know that’ or ‘I understand’. At times, this acknowledgement is all your child needs to hear.

Try not to contradict your child’s statement immediately, even if you think your child is wrong. Hear your child out before saying no. If your child says, ‘I don’t want to go to school anymore’, instead of saying, ‘You have to go’, you might ask, ‘What’s the worst thing about it?’

Listen to your child’s request without judging or correcting it. Good teachers give children a chance to explain themselves first, even if they’re wrong. The same technique works at home.

Acknowledge your child’s feelings with a question
Like grown-ups, children want to feel that their opinions matter – and often get mad when they are told they are wrong. Instantly contradicting your child’s opinion often escalates to an immediate fight over who is right. A specific question about the situation might instead prompt a useful discussion.
– Michael Thompson, PhD, co-author of Raising Cain
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  • Last updated or reviewed 08-06-2010
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