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PARENTING: HELP! MY KIDS DON’T LISTEN TO ME!

There is nothing as disappointing as having your own child not taking your word seriously. It portrays disrespect and ignorance. Nine year old Shani and her mother fall in this category. The moment Josephine gets in the house, it is always argument time. Arguing because Shani has not done what she was supposed to do. She will not heed to a simple task as closing the door because she is glued to the Television or just ‘busy’. Josephine finds it perturbing that her daughter is developing disrespect towards her by not listening to her.

It’s not that your child is deliberately trying to ignore you. With all the distractions in the world, it’s more likely that your little one (or your teenager!) is simply too focused on all that’s going on around her to pay attention to you. However, that does not make it right for him/her to disrespect you. Mom and Dad highlights tips to help you communicate effectively as well as pointers on mistakes you could be making as a parent.

  1. TONE

Do not be ashamed if you have resorted to yelling at your child after the third reminder to put on his shoes. However, raising your voice is not the most effective strategy to change your child’s behavior.

Instead, use a tone that is firm but respectful; you want to convey a command versus a polite request. Then, ask your child to repeat the instruction back to you to ensure that he’s heard you.

 

 

BE CLEAR

Every parent has likely used the “question-command” at one point or another.  “Do you want to put on your shoes now?” “Are you ready to go to bed?” “Is it time to clean up your toys?” Take a wild guess as to what the answers to those questions are going to be–if they even acknowledge the questions at all.

Give effective instructions by clearly stating what you want your child to do. “Put on your shoes now.” “Brush your teeth and get ready for bed.” “Put the toys back in their places.”

Avoid giving overly complex instructions, particularly if you’re talking to a young child.

Rather than telling your preschooler that she needs to clean up her toys because grandma is coming over and you want the house to be neat for her, you should just say “put the toys away.”

NOT SO SERIOUS

Consider the possibility that your child may be tuning you out because you sound too unfriendly. Children tend to ignore the mundane and focus on things that excite them (such as that new animated movie that’s on TV).

Get his attention by yelling out something a little kooky such as “Listen, giggle bear!” Hearing you say something a little off-the-wall will instantly catch their attention.

APPRECIATE

When a child knows his efforts are appreciated, he’s more likely to listen the first time you tell him to do it. So offer praise and words of appreciation when your child is helping out.

Training your child to listen to you isn’t going to be an overnight thing. Be patient as you try to help your child learn the importance of listening the first time you speak. And recognize that tuning you out sometimes is normal behavior for kids.

WHY THEY DO NOT LISTEN

  1. REPETITION

Repeating what you said to your child all day will only make you look desperate. Nagging will actually train your child that he doesn’t have to listen the first time you speak. Instead, they will recognize that you tend to repeat your instructions several times and will realize there is no incentive to listen the first time.

Rather than saying, “I’ve told you five times to shut off that video game!” only give a command once. Then, follow through with an if…then warning. Do not allow your child to ignore your instructions or delay the task after you’ve told him once.

  1. NO CONSEQUENCES

If you say, “Go brush your teeth,” yet you don’t do anything when your child makes no attempt to brush his teeth, he’ll learn that he doesn’t need to listen. Saying things like, “I’m not going to tell you again, go brush your teeth,” without a real consequence, also isn’t helpful.

Follow through with a negative consequence each time your child does not comply with an if…then warning.

Take away his electronics for the day or tell him he’s going to have an earlier bedtime, but make sure there is a consequence that will motivate him to follow through with your instructions next time.

  1. NO POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT

Without positive attention and positive reinforcement, your child may lose motivation to follow through with your instructions. While you certainly do not need to pay your child for every single chore he completes, or offer a trip to the park each time he puts his dish in the sink, positive reinforcement is important.

Offer praise for immediate compliance. Try saying, “Great job shutting off the TV right when I asked you!” or “Thanks for coming to the dinner table the first time I called you.” These affirmations reinforce good behavior and encourage kids to keep following your directions.

  1. YOU TALK TOO MUCH

You likely give your child hundreds of commands each day, ranging from “Pick up your socks,” to “Stop banging your fork on the table.” If your child misbehaves often, it’s likely he receives many more commands than other children.

Bombarding your child with nitpicky instructions like, “Color inside the lines,” and “Pull your socks up,” will cause your child to tune you out. Your voice will become like background noise if you are constantly offering advice and warnings about things that aren’t all that important.

Only give the most important instructions. Avoid giving the extra commands that are simply based on your preferred way of doing things – rather than the way your child must do something. While it can feel uncomfortable to watch your child do things his own way, over parenting your child can have serious consequences.

  1. YOU DON’T SOUND SERIOUS

The words you choose when you give commands are really important. Saying things like, “Will you please go brush your teeth now?” implies the task is optional. So does saying things like, “Pick up your toys now, OK?” These types of commands make you sound less authoritative.