I'd been attending therapy and it was suggested that during difficult conversations, that I ask the person I'm talking to to repeat what I'd just said in their own words. So after one of my best ever lectures, I asked my child to tell me what I'd just said. My child sheepishly admitted that he completely zones out the moment I step into lecture mode, so he had no idea what I'd said. As a result, he honestly couldn't summarize the lecture. No wonder I never felt like he was listing, because he wasn't! Now I was not only upset by his behavior, but also the fact that my therapist didn't tell me what to do when the other person wasn't listening!
So, I took a few minutes to calm down and tried explaining my concerns to my child again. This time before I started, I asked him to see if he could shorten what I said into 6 words. This time he listened carefully and when I stopped talking he spent a few moments looking upwards, mouthing words and finger counting. Then he looked at me and successfully summarized my entire lecture into 6 words. With his summary, I knew that he heard me and I no longer felt the need to keep lecturing. The next time I wanted to make sure he heard me, I just asked him to summarize what I was saying before I started and when I stopped he did.
This is the humble birth of the "6 Word Mom Lecture".
After many months of doing this, my child knew that I was going to ask for a 6 word summary so he would listen just enough to be sure he could meet my challenge. It felt great to lecture with a captive audience and even better to know my teenager was hearing me. Often I would get on a role and just keep going on and on about my expectations, after all my child honestly was listening and I had an important point to make. If making that point once was good, making it 10 times must be better! During one of these extensive repetitive lectures, my child interrupted me and said "I'm ready to give you the 6 word mom lecture". For a brief moment I scoffed, because I wasn't sure that I was done berating his behavior. However, since I am a mature parent who listens to her child I decided it might be interesting to hear what he has to say mid-lecture. So I agreed to hear his summary, and it was so good that I couldn't continue the lecture anymore. He knew exactly what point I was trying to make, and I'd been talking in circles for quite some time. After that my son started asking permission to stop me during a lecture to provide the 6 word summary, He usually didn't ask me to stop until I started repeating myself.
Now and again he will provide a 6 word mom lecture that doesn't fit what I was attempting to get across. When this happens, we tend to take a break. I spend a little time thinking about what I'm really upset about and how to explain it differently and he does whatever kids do when they know that mom is going to come lecture them soon. If I can't sort out what I need to say then I'll ask family or friends and talk out the issue with them until I have clarity on what I need my kid to hear. At that point, we talk about the issue again. The few times this type of thing has occurred, my kid later admitted that they didn't know I was feeling that way. I had to admit that I didn't know I was feeling that way either, until I was forced to identify exactly what I needed my kid to hear.
This balance between the kid hearing and the adult speaking is what creates the beauty of the 6-word mom lecture. As a parent, when I do lecture I know my child is listening. He may not agree with me, but I know that he is hearing me. As a child, he is no longer subject to my ongoing lectures. In many ways we are both learning to better relate to one another through the 6 word mom lecture.
I'm not claiming that this tactic will work for every child in every situation, but I am sharing a tool that honestly worked wonders in my family.