Do you feel like you repeat yourself hundreds of times each day? Do you find yourself ready to tear your hair out because each day you say the same thing (“Please put your jammies in the laundry basket.”), only to have to repeat it again and again and again each day? Me, too! I had been feeling especially frustrated by my 3 kids not listening. Part of being a parent is teaching the skill of listening, but I didn’t seem to be doing a very good job. That’s when I decided to do a bit of research on how to tame this issue that was beginning to make me feel like I was going a little bit cuckoo. After all, the skill of listening and following directions is not only important at home, but at school and in your child’s future life as well.
Make sure you have your child’s attention. Yelling out a direction from another room or trying to communicate while the TV is on is setting yourself up for failure and frustration. To make sure your child is actually hearing what you are saying, be sure to make sure they are not distracted and are looking at you. Eye contact is a great indication that they are absorbing what you are saying.
Ask your child to repeat the direction you just gave. They can also explain the directions in their own words if that is easier for them. If they are able to repeat back what you just said, you know they have understood.
Speak quietly and succinctly. While it is so easy to escalate to nagging and yelling, you will actually get your child’s attention more efficiently if they have to listen carefully. Keep your voice calm and your tone even. Additionally, if it is something they know to do, keep your reminder short. Rather than droning on and on about how you tell how you have to ask them every day… use one or two words. For my kids putting their jammies in the laundry instead of throwing them on the floor, I should simply say, “jammies”.
Follow through with consequences. Kids learn very quickly when you are inconsistent that they can get away with things. Set up a system where they may not turn on the television until their room is picked up or they may not go out to play until the dishwasher has been emptied. This gives them a bit of choice in the matter- they know that when they finish what is expected of them, they will get to do what they want. When the TV is still off an hour later, they might realize that in order to get what they want, they have to do what is expected first.
Acknowledge good behavior. While we are often quick to point out what our kids DIDN’T do, we forget to say “Great job!” when they actually listen. When your child follows your instructions, let them know that you appreciate it and give them a hug or high five. This will help to prevent them seeking negative attention—doing the wrong thing to get a response from you.
Hang in there! Raising well-mannered kids who listen is no easy task, but you can do it.
Meet The Bella Behind the Blog: Kristen Farley is a mother of three and a domestic goddess. She is a former teacher who enjoys spending lots of time with her kids, healthy eating, volunteering at school, and mommy blogging for the masses.