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How to Speak So Your Grandchildren Will Listen

Speaking so your grandchildren will listen, is more about personality types than it is about the generation gap.

Many grandparents think their grandchildren don’t listen to what they are saying, because they don’t want to. That could be true. However, it could be they are not spoken to in a manner that is easily processed. Depending on the personality of the grandchild, grandparents may need to choose how they speak to get the best results.

Listening is one of the keys to building relationships within our families and with our friends. And for those we love dearly, such as our grandchildren, it is especially important to understand their communication styles.

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Children Listen According to Personality

You may not think personality has anything to do with listening. But each person communicates differently and hears what you say to him according to their personality style of communication. Grandchildren are no different.

According to the LINKED® Personality system (and many others) there are four types of personalities. The four words that describe the LINKED Personalities are Mobilizer, Socializer, Stabilizer, and Organizer. Even the names give you a clue as to the personality traits.

Grandmother and grandchildren playing in the garden

Resources for Grandparents

Find fun and practical resources to help you draw closer to your grandchildren

Can You Spot Your Grandchild’s Personality?

Mobilizers are focused, direct, and to the point. If a task needs to be done, they focus on the goal and go full-speed ahead. They like to be in control. Mobilizer personalities are not easily discouraged and love a challenge. They make great leaders and independent thinkers. Hard work and exercise relaxes the Mobilizer personality. Their communication style is direct and straightforward.

The Socializer Personality is the life of the party. If something is not fun, it is more like work. An excellent storyteller, Socializers like to be the center of attention in any sized group. Going to a party, shopping, or out to lunch is their preferred way of relaxing. The communication style of a Socializer is fun and full of stories and often high volume.

The Stabilizer personality is your peacekeeper. They are not fond of chaos and love quiet. Stabilizers choose their words carefully in a conversation and love to feel respect and worthiness. When they want to relax, the Stabilizer settles down with a good book or to watch television.

The communication style of a Stabilizer is low key, calm, and unexcitable.

Organizer personalities love order in every area of their lives. The don’t like to be in large crowds. Organizers are great listeners and loyal friends. They want things done the right way the first time. Organizer personalities tend to think a lot, talk intentionally, and listen well. When an Organizer wants to relax, he or she seeks a quiet space with no others around. Long periods of relaxation are always welcome to the Organizer. The communication style of an Organizer is very thoughtful and intentional.

Grandchildren Listen, or Do They?

Grandparents must also realize what their communication styles are so that they can speak effectively to their grandchildren. For example, the calm Stabilizers and Organizers sometimes struggle with the directness of the Mobilizer grandparent or the frivolity of a Socializer grandparent.

Therefore, not only is important for a grandparent to understand their own personality, they must understand that of each of their grandchildren.

Speak So Your Children Will Listen

“Natalia, did you hear me say ‘quit biting your nails’?”

“I heard you. But I am nervous. I want to make an A on my science test and Mrs. Waldrop is going to post the grades tomorrow.”

Natalia’s Stabilizer personality had a hard time processing the directness of her grandmother’s statement. Had Grandmother asked Natalia very calmly to stop her nervous habit, she would have probably opened up more to Grandmother and they could have discussed Natalia’s nervousness and goals for her grades.

GiGi often reprimanded four-year-old Jake when it was time to put his toys away. Jake knew how to make a tremendous mess out of blocks, cars, and action figures. When it was time to put it all away, however, Jake didn’t like the process. Just because GiGi told him to clean up was not a good enough reason to make that happen. Jake was a Socializer personality and liked to have fun. It was great to get all the toys out and he played and created scenes with all his figures as they came out of the box. So when Gigi realized Jake’s fun-loving personality wanted to make a game out of everything, she had found the secret to having him help clean up.

“Jake, would you like to play just one more game?” GiGi asked. “Oh, yes, GiGi!”

“You take all the action figures and I am going to take all the cars and blocks and we’ll see who can finish putting their things away first. Let’s see who wins.”

“OK, GiGi, but what is the prize?”

GiGi thought for a minute. “How about we walk to the ice cream shop and the loser buys the winner’s favorite ice cream?”

“Yay! Let’s do it!”

A Story about Grandchildren Listening

Jake immediately started cleaning up the playroom. The room was filled with giggles. In no time, shouts were heard, “I won, I won.” Jake said as he jumped up and down. In just a few minutes GiGi and Jake were headed out the door to the ice cream shoppe.

Jake’s big sister was seven. Clara loved having things in order but it was often just too much trouble to keep them there. Easy-going Clara felt like her toys were easier to play with if she didn’t have to pull them out all over again.

One day Gigi walked into the playroom. Clara had all her favorite books strewn across the floor. “Clara, it’s time for supper. Would you please put your books back on the shelves? It is almost time to eat.”

“Oh, Gigi, I’ll just have to get them out again when we are done.” Clara’s Stabilizer personality dictated that she only do what was absolutely necessary when it came to putting toys and books back in their proper places.

“But won’t it be easier to find them if they are back on the shelf in their proper places?”

“Well, I guess so. But it will be more trouble to put them up and get them out again. Then you will tell me I have to put them up again. If I just leave them out while we eat, they will be waiting for me!”

“Yes, but often after supper we play a game or work a puzzle before we even think about the books again. Then you have two messes to clean up.”

“OK, I guess you are right.” Clara began picking up her books and soon had the playroom restored to its neat state.

Even the Youngest Grandchildren Will Listen

On the other hand, little Samuel was an Organizer personality, right on board for keeping things organized. Even though Samuel was only three-years-old, he knew where everything should go. When Grandmimi said it was time to pick up, Samuel immediately put his coloring books away and then started with the crayons. The blues went in the blue basket, yellows in the yellow, reds together in their basket, and so on. Grandmimi loved having Samuel keep the playroom straight because you could always rely on everything to be in its designated place. That’s why she bought Samuel baskets matching the color of his crayons.

Communicating with grandchildren, or any family member, becomes much easier when you understand their best method of communication. Knowing their personalities makes it easier to assure you are heard correctly when you speak.

You’ll be amazed at the improvement in your communication with your grandchildren and others around you will be when you have just a little personality knowledge. A little personality knowledge can go a long way to learning how your grandchildren listen!

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