You might have been through a phase when you have asked your child to do something. Very calmly and peacefully and instead of action what you got is Silence.
“Maybe they didn’t hear me?” you think. So, you ask again nicely. Firmly, but nicely.
Nothing. Again you remind them and again you get nothing done. And with this, you get stuck into a cycle of Remind, Repeat, Remind and Repeat.
And then it happens–the fuse blows. In a moment of utter defeat, you’re left screaming the same demands you had requested calmly just minutes ago. The energy escalates and everyone is left frustrated and discouraged.
We get it. The most common frustration we hear from moms and dads these days is that children “don’t listen”. Before actually making them listen, we first need to find the root cause of WHY he is not listening. More often than not, his lack of response is a SYMPTOM, not the actual problem. If you do not address this issue in the beginning, this simple case of “not listening” blossoms into bigger behavior issues such as tantrums, defiance, and backtalk.
Why Don’t Kids Listen?
Well that’s a good question! Why are they not responding? Why do you have to repeat something over and over again and find yourself yelling?
So, let us tell you one thing. Children of all the ages- from toddlers to teens, have a hard-wired need for power. When children don’t have opportunities to exert their power in positive ways–choosing what clothes to wear, making the dinner menu, picking what game to play, etc.–they will exert their power in negative ways. And by choosing not to listen, they can acknowledge their power in negative ways. This was simply to express their need for more control and decision- making ability in their lives.
However, by implementing a few easy-to-learn positive parenting techniques, you can give your kids power within the boundaries and put an end to this repeat and remind loop.
5 Steps to Get Kids to Listen
#1. Match their Level
If you want your child’s attention, make sure you get her attention by making eye contact. Lower yourself down and look her in the eye, you not only verify she sees and hears you, but you strengthen the communication as well.
Keep your laundry bag or that spatula aside and step into her room. Proximity is key–you’re not talking down to her or barking orders from the other room–you’re speaking with her.
#2. Don’t Say Don’t
Don’t touch your brother. Don’t run in the hall. Don’t play with your food.Negative commands, such as “don’t” and “no” require kids to double process.That’s confusing and contradictory.Instead, tell your child what to DO.Instead of “Don’t touch your brother,” try “Use gentle touches when touching your brother” or “Your brother doesn’t want to be touched right now, so please keep your hands folded while we are in the car.”
#3. Say Thank You in Advance
Help your kids make an appropriate choice by taking this leap of faith. Your “Thank you for hanging up your towel after your shower,” will encourage your kids toward good behavior much more than, “I better not see your towel on the floor again!” It will encourage positive parenting and they will know that you trust them and encourage them to do the right thing.
#4. Shorten your Speech
Yes you got that right. Just be short and precise. Parents often tend to turn a five second answer into a five minute debate. There’s a saying in the sales industry, “never sell with blah-blah what you can sell with blah.” I think it makes sense in parenting too. When trying to get your kid’s attention, be as concise as possible and they won’t even have time to tune you out!
If you see a task that’s been left undone, don’t dive in with a big reprimand, just make an OBSERVATION: “I see a jacket on the floor,” or you can ask, “What is your plan for taking care of the trash today?” It’s empowering because it’s assumptive on your part that they have a plan–and gives your child an opportunity to save face and quickly come up with a plan in the moment if they didn’t already have one!
Remember that “not listening” should always be a wakeup call for us. While it might seem like defiance or inattention on their part–it is more than likely a way to get our attention or express their need for power.