“If you had listened to us, your friends wouldn't have stopped talking to you,” or “Just listen, it will help you understand what you are supposed to do.” How often we must have said these words! One of the hardest tasks of parenting is getting our kids to listen to us, and then, of course, getting them to do what we ask! Not easy at all, and we all know that. Most conversations start with a “Why don’t you ever listen” or “If you had listened, this would not have happened.” So, we have no choice but to accept the inevitable with a few modifications. If we remember to use a few important skills, I think this job will be much easier for us.
We need to think before we speak. Sometimes, we tell our children it's time to leave, then take twenty more minutes to get ready ourselves. We ask our kids to finish the food on their plate, but don’t do it ourselves. All such situations kids who have "selective hearing." Instead, we have to take a minute to think before we issue a command, be specific, and our words will become more accurate and meaningful.
With our little ones, we have to be very specific about what we want them to do. Not "hint" at what we want our children to do: "It would be nice if you... " or "Don't you think you should..” It’s better if we don’t make an incomplete request: "Soon you'll have to get ready to go." Also if we are not vague with: "You know better than that..."
Instead, it is better to be clear and specific. We should state our requests in a way that will not be misunderstood "Please put your shoes and coat on and get in the car " or "Please hang up your clothes and put your books on the shelf. " or "Sit here and use a quiet inside voice."
We also have to control our emotions. When we lose our temper and raise our voice the logical result would be that our kids would pay closer attention to you. In fact, the opposite is often true! Kids often key in on our anger, but miss the point of our words.
Studies show that most of our communication is conveyed through our presentation (body language, tone of voice, etc.) Kids will focus on your emotions, and dismiss our words. Instead keeping our voice even and calm, and our words clear and specific helps to get better results. To do this, we have to remember to think first, determine exactly what we want, and make our words convey a tone of authority.
It helps if we get up close and personal. While it's a whole lot easier to yell from two rooms away, its much less effective. Children respond much, much better to us when we are facing them eye-to-eye. In addition, when we are standing close by we can determine if they are paying attention to us, without having to gauge the meaning of a few distant grunts. It takes a few extra minutes to get face to face, but will save us from getting angry as we repeat your request over and over again.
We will need to remind ourselves of what we are trying to do, and keep our goals fresh in our mind. It’s important to give ourselves time to learn how to use these ideas, as none of us are born knowing how to parent!! It’s a tough job, but it’s worth it !