How To Get Your Kids to Listen Without Any Fear, Force, Bribery, or Rewards…

You’ve asked your child to do something. Very calmly. Very rationally. And very deliberately. Instead of action, you get the kid who just ignores you. You feel yourself rapidly falling into the familiar cycle of “Repeat. Remind. Repeat. Remind.” 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. Here’s the thing though, if you want to get a handle on your child’s unresponsiveness, the first thing you need to do is figure out WHY he is NOT listening. More often than not, his lack of response is a SYMPTOM, not the actual problem. The following are some tips to help you get them to listen better and cooperate more, without relying on fear, force, bribery, and rewards…

Ask for What You Want

If you say “don’t touch your brother,” a child has to stop the current behavior AND determine the appropriate alternative behavior – If I can’t touch him, does that mean I can’t hug him? Can we play tag? Can I give him a high five? Can I help him put on his jacket or tie his shoes if mom asks? 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”. Instead of “don’t leave your toys all over the floor”, try “please put your toys in the toy bin.” Instead of “don’t run in the hall”, try “please walk in the hall.”

Seek To Understand

Sometimes as a parent, you may need to slow down and understand what is going on. Do not assume a negative intent by your child it can make the child respond a lot better.

Use Empathy Often

When you are not seeing eye to eye, but you slow down to listen and say, “I can see why you feel upset about this, I want to understand more how you are feeling.” This will make your child feel better and you also to be able to hear them out or problem-solve with them.

Be Patient

It does seem the advice is slow down to parents and I know this is easier said than done but you got to trust me slowing down is good for all of us and our kids. It gives lots of opportunities each day to freeze time for a moment. Slow listening is a skill we can develop. Slow down, so you can listen.

Get on Their Level

When you need your child’s attention, make sure you get her attention–that means eye contact. When you 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. This means you might have to step away from the laundry or put down the whisk for a minute and step into the other room. Proximity is key–you’re not talking down to her or barking orders from the other room–you’re speaking with them.

Learn to Listen

Listening—it’s not as easy as it sounds. It’s often uncomfortable to really hear your child’s point of view. Try asking “what is going on” instead of saying ” why did your teacher have to call me?.” Your child will often open up and explain why they are acting a certain way, which helps us then correctly assess what happened and effectively help them towards better behavior. Try to always a neutral, respectful tone. Your child will respond and cooperate better.

Implement Fresh Starts

We all want to have a peaceful, joyful connection with our kits. But often power surge stages of life can drive us to become parents we never wanted to be. It is okay to say “I want to try that again because this morning did not go as planned. I know we can do this together if we put out hearts and minds together. I know we can do better. Can we start fresh and try again tomorrow?” 

What Is the Goal?

Let’s try less threatening, punishing, scolding, yelling, scaring, or forcing to get the desired behavior we want. Let’s try to focus on the good, instead of or pointing out our kid’s flaws. Think twice before bribing for good behavior and start expecting more from your children. Sometimes giving your children some responsibility and expectations can help them rise to the occasion. Remember that “not listening” should always be a wake-up call for us. While it might seem like defiance or inattention on your child’s part–it is more than likely a way to get our attention or express their need for power. Kids and adults alike have a need to be seen and heard. When this need isn’t met, kids will stop listening to us. It may sound counter-intuitive, but CLEARLY it works since it’s the number one complaint parents share!

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Pediatrics of About Pediatrics of Florence

We believe that children are more than just “little adults.” They have unique personalities, challenges, and life circumstances and we have made every effort to make our offices and care as “kid friendly” as possible. We have an aquatic theme in the waiting rooms (separated for sick and well children) as well as themed examination rooms. All of our physicians are Board Certified Pediatricians and members of the American Academy of Pediatrics and our nurse practitioners are all licensed Pediatric Nurse Practitioners and are available to see both well and sick children.
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