The “trick” to get your kids to listen the first time lies more in the changes WE can make as parents instead of changing our kids. If you are tired of yelling “Make up your bed” only to walk upstairs and see covers undone, read on…
“Come downstairs and get your shoes on….we are late!!!” I yell loudly to my two girls up the stairs. To be honest, it’s my mantra every day in the 5 minutes leading up to us running late for school nearly every day.
How can this be, I asked my good friend Becky the other day. How in the world can I do everything in my power to prep lunches on Sunday, lay out clothes the night before and get up an hour before my kids and us STILL BE RUNNING BEHIND?
And seriously, all it would take for us to NOT be late is for my kids to have listened the first time I told them to come downstairs and actually get their ever-lovin’ shoes on!!!
But they didn’t…not the 1st time or the 2nd time or the 3rd...It finally took me going up the stairs and telling them to come right now before they finally listened.
And I will admit it probably wasn’t one of my shining moments of motherhood had anyone been taping my voice or my face. Despite writing an entire series on How To Be A Better Mom, I fail at it quite often myself.
“I’m done,” I told my husband that evening. This has got to end.
These little people of ours go to school and are incredible listeners and rule-followers (I know because their teachers tell me!).
So I KNOW it’s in their power to listen….I just wasn’t going about it in the right way.
Here’s what I changed about MY approach and the changes it made in our kids.
Like the old saying, change begins with me.
1. Cut Out The Distractions – Kids aren’t multitaskers…honestly I don’t think most adults are either though most of us swear to be.
If your child is watching tv and you are telling them to wash their hands before dinner, it’s just not going to work. You are wasting your breath and they are having a hard time hearing Paw Patrol.
So just stop. Tell your child to turn off the tv and THEN make your request.
2. Be Direct – I’m a talker…my husband is a details guy. This is great if you’re telling a story or writing a blog.
It is like a death knell if you are talking to a child.
Don’t go into the minutia of why it is important that we brush our teeth and floss each morning (so that we don’t get cavities, pay for fillings, experience pain….yada yada yada).
Cut to the chase. “Brush your teeth before you put your jacket on.” Done.
3. Make Eye Contact – I think we can agree my yelling up the stairs for the kids to come down and get their shoes on didn’t work very well, right?
Partially that’s because I was too easy to ignore. I don’t take that so much a sign of my kids being disrespectful as being indicative of the fact they are 4 and 6 and “out of sight, out of mind” is a very real thing to them.
Want your child to listen? Go to your child – kneel down at their level and make your request. Watch the change in both of you. No yelling required.
4. Make It A Game – I get it – sometimes you are on a time limit. Sometimes we don’t have time to go up the stairs and get down on their level. Sometimes you.just.need.to.go!
No problem – challenge your kid to a game.
How many toys can you pick up in 1 minute?
Who can find their shoes the fastest?
Who can brush their teeth first?
A little competition can bring out the best in any of us.
5. Praise The Positive – Do you like getting reprimanded? Does it make you want to do better when you are told you did something wrong? How do you feel when you get called out for not doing a good job?
Well, our kids feel the same way when we tell them they aren’t good listeners. Or we fuss at them because they didn’t do what we asked.
Don’t get me wrong, they are kids and we have to teach them but often times, focusing on what they do RIGHT will go a lot farther. And will build them up instead of tear them down.
So the next time your son turns off the tv and comes to the table the first time you ask, tell him how impressed you are with his listening. He will remember it, trust me.
6. Accept That These Rules Won’t Work EVERY.SINGLE.TIME – They are going to work most of the time and I promise that you will see a real tangible change in both you and your kids immediately.
We all have off days… you and your kids. If your child doesn’t listen the first time, be prepared to to firmly repeat your request once.
If no success, now is a good time to take away a privilege. Not anything extreme – a special tv show for a day, free time on the iPad.
Show your kids that listening the first time pays off in the long run.
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