How do I get my kids to listen?

MarcilieParenting w/Positive DisciplineLeave a Comment

Have you ever complained to yourself (or others) that…

“He never listens to me!”
“I have to tell him 10 times!”
“She’ll only pay attention if I yell!”

Chances are that nearly all of us have felt irritated by our child’s inability to listen and follow through with simple requests at one time or another (if not daily).

Years ago, my child was soooooo adept at ignoring my requests that I actually took him to the ear doctor.

His ears were fine.

My parenting needed some fine-tuning, however.  What I learned was that my shouting from across the house or lecturing about why my request was perfectly reasonable, and why was it so hard to listen and follow through with such simple requests, and what was he learning from the experience, blah blah blah blah wasn’t effective.  (How did I not know that to begin with?  Alas, I’m still learning.)

Check out the scenarios below (inspired by Glenda Montgomery’s “Are you training your children to ignore you?”) for some tips to remedy your child’s case of selective hearing ( ;

Scenario 1:

It’s time to do homework. Child is upstairs playing/reading/doing something they like to do.

What parents commonly do:
Stay downstairs and yell up to child that it’s time for homework. When the child doesn’t respond, just continue to yell, “Hey, I said it’s time for homework!” while getting more and more irritated.

What child might be learning:
If I just ignore that yelling, I can keep doing what I like.

What to do instead:
Walk into child’s room and get at child’s level.  Then say, “Hey, sweet boy.  It’s time to do your homework.  I could use a hand with this bag.  Would you please help me by carrying it downstairs?”

Tools:  Eye To Eye, Ask for Help

Scenario 2:

Parent promised kids they would go to the park in 10 minutes.  Parent is working on their computer.

What parents commonly do:
Call out to kids, “We are leaving in 10 minutes!”  When 10 minutes are up, keep working on computer.  After another 5 minutes, yell, “I told you to be ready in 10 minutes!”  Then take the next 10 minutes to get yourself ready to leave while concurrently pushing the rest of the family along.

What child might be learning:
My parent doesn’t really mean what they say, so why pay attention?  Also, 10 minutes really means 25 so I don’t really have to move until my parent starts moving or yells like they really mean it.

What to do instead:
Get everyone’s attention.  Let them know you are leaving in 10 minutes and that you will set a timer.  After timer goes off, follow through and say, “It’s time to go!”  (Make sure you get Eye To Eye.) Then leave.

Tools:  Eye To Eye, Follow Through, Get Yourself Ready First

Scenario 3:

Child didn’t feed the cat, which is their regular responsibility.

What parents commonly do:
Lecture child, telling them exactly the way things need to be and why.  Then share your feelings about it (go on and on).  Then tell child what you think child’s feelings should be about it.  Be logical, reasonable, and coherent (in your opinion).

What child might be learning:
My parent thinks I’m an idiot.  I can’t be trusted.  This is boring/demeaning/irritating so I will tune out as a way to protect myself.  (Child hears, “Blah blah blah, blame, shame, blah blah blah, blame, blah blah.”) Who wants to listen to that?

What to do instead:
Remind child with 10 words or less, or even just one word or a signal by saying, “Cat” or pantomime an agreed-upon signal for feeding the cat.

Tools:  KISS (Keep It Short and Simple), Act Without Words, Silent Signal

Download this 1-page cheat sheet here.

Ready for more?  Check out Marcilie’s upcoming classes here.

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