Some days you feel like the invisible mom, or maybe the mute mom. No matter what you say, how you say it, how loud, or how many times, your kids just don’t listen. This is one of the biggest complaints from parents. “I feel like all I do is run behind my kids repeating myself.” Moms come to me ready to pull their hair out, or maybe they only have a few clumps left. They’re tired of yelling to no avail. Get ready to learn the secret to getting kids to listen.
When parents say their kids don’t listen, they really mean their kids don’t do what they are told. They are often hiding behind screens, the television screen, the laptop screen, the phone screen, or the tablet screen. The first step to getting kids to listen or to obey is to make sure they hear the message. Are you yelling your commands across the house from one room to the next or are you talking to a child with nothing in between you two except the screen?
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1. Be direct and make eye contact.
When you need a child’s full and undivided attention, get their full and undivided attention. In giving orders, be sure to make eye contact with your child and then get some sort of confirmation that they heard you. They must acknowledge your direction with a response. Ask them to repeat the order back. Ask them for verbal confirmation that they heard the order.
2. Be clear and concise in your direction.
Kids attention spans are short. Once you get your child’s undivided attention, be clear and concise in your direction so that their eyes don’t glaze over as their little minds begin to wander off into Neverland. Think about a time you were busy at work, that time may have been just this morning, and a coworker interrupts your email response to a concerned client. You are in the zone trying to get the right words across when someone walks into your office and asks a question. You answer, but they proceed to tell you a song and dance about why they are asking. They finish their monologue with a request but by that time your mind has already returned to the next best line to write in your email. It happens. It’s best to be clear and concise.
3. Inform your child of the consequences of not following Directions.
In order to hold your child accountable for not following your direction, they need to be made aware of the consequences. If the direction was intended to be followed through with at that moment, stay in their presence until they get up to do what you asked.
Be consistent with your household rules. For example, no video games until after homework are completed. You can hang out with your friends after all chores are done. You can watch a movie only when your room is clean. When directions become rules, the expectations are more embedded in their heads and systems begin to form making the household run smoother.
4. Follow through with your decision.
When your child wants to play video games, simply ask to see their completed homework. If the homework is not completed, then remind them that video game time is only allowed after homework is completed. Do the same for all requests to remind your child of the rules. You must stick to your word or your child will not take your direction seriously.
Be respectful, firm and kind in holding kids accountable with simple statements without emotion. “I noticed the dishes aren’t done and you want to go out with your friends right now. What is the rule?” When your child tries to argue or give a little verbal push back, you can respond with a simple smile and gesture towards the dishes. If you get more push back, you can offer a hug, or simply say, “I love you and the dishes are waiting for you.” Stand your ground and allow time for your child to follow through.
5. If your child has a difficult time with these steps you will need to take it to the next level with a more official agreement.
In such instances, a more thorough conversation is required. You will need to set aside time to have this discussion. You may want to include other members of the household depending on the situation. Keep it friendly and respectful and invite everyone to brainstorm possible solutions. You may want to have fun with this and offer some silly or outrageous solutions to ensure everyone keeps a positive attitude. Once you have a good list of solutions, you can choose one that you both or all agree on.
Finally, make a deadline. Your deadline needs to be specific, such as, all chores need to be done by 8 o’clock. You may go out with your friends until 9:15 pm. Your homework needs to be completed by the time I get home from work at 6:30. Be very specific and always clear and concise. Being specific with your deadline is extremely important. When you agree, know that you will have to both keep your word.