We’ve all been there — trying to get our child to listen to no avail, while they’re actively ignoring you! With each request getting louder and more firm, it’s any wonder if their teeth will get brushed or if they’ll finally turn off the TV. Nothing can be more frustrating as a parent or caregiver, and it’s probably not your goal to be the kind of parent that is constantly yelling for things to get done. So, is there a secret to getting kids to listen?
At Community Education Research Group, our after-school facility at our Antioch site has seen its share of getting kids to listen. The after school hours provide a unique time of day where the kids are free from school yet not quite home, so they can be extra effervescent! Join us in today’s post as we speak from experience on how to calmly and expertly get kids to listen!
We’ll let you into a secret, there is no secret to getting your kids to listen better!
A Few Tips and Techniques For Listening
While there is no secret to getting kids to listen better, there are better, proven ways to do it! Keep your sanity and grow in your parenting with the tips and techniques listed below.
Kids just need reminding…with a single word.
When it comes to what kids need to be doing, they usually know. It begins to become a game when they see you getting aggravated and upset, thus the active ignoring. At our after school facility, this is common. The kids will be playing outside and having a blast when we signal that it’s time to come in. They stay engaged and you have two options, continue to ask them repeatedly to come in or use a single word. The best way to get them to respond is to make eye contact with them and say “inside” and start walking. They’ll know you mean business and follow suit. With time, this reinforcement becomes fluid and they’ll respond to all your single word requests.
Communicate and provide information.
When someone asks something of us or barks commands, our innate reaction is to rebel. When we do this with a child, they respond in the same way. If they’re bouncing up and down in a dining chair during a meal, and you ask them to sit down and stop, they’ll likely continue to jump. This happens in our Antioch after school facility too — if we’re watching a movie and some the kids are being disruptive, it’s easy to get loud and tell them to stop, but it’s not effective. You can turn this into a moment if empathetic communication by giving them the information they need to make better decisions. When you speak to them about being disruptive during a movie, simply inform them that they’re making it difficult for those around them to watch the movie, and now that they have all the information, you trust they’ll do the right thing.
Sometimes kids just need a little more information because they don’t realize why what they’re doing is an issue. With additional information as to why their behavior isn’t appropriate, they begin to understand and change their behavior quickly and accordingly.
Choices are golden.
No one enjoys threats or punishment — neither do children! If your child doesn’t want to get into the car, you naturally try and persuade them in doing so. You tell them “You can pick out a special snack at the grocery store” and other persuasions, yet they still won’t budge. Next, the threats and punishments are issued which will likely make your child even more upset. When your child gets stubborn, offer choices and a part of the decision and they may be more willing to cooperate. If you’re trying to get them in the car you could give them the decision such as, “If you get in the car now, you can play your favorite game while we are driving and if you don’t, you will not be able to play a game at all today.” If your child misses out on playing a game in the car, the next time, they’ll make the decision to go.
Always state your expectations clearly.
At our after school facility in Antioch, we do fun activities and outings from time to time, and when you give the kids broader boundaries, they like to test them. If you’re celebrating a birthday and let the kids play an extra 10 minutes on the playground they’ll beg, “Pleeeeease five more minutes,” when the expectations aren’t stated. If, however, you say “because we’re celebrating a birthday, we’ll play for an extra 10 minutes and then we’ll go back inside” everyone knows the boundaries.
Help them express their feelings.
Kids will become frustrated and will not respond when they can’t express their feelings. If your child comes to you crying or extremely upset, help them name their feelings. You could say, “I see you’re very upset, what is going on?” They’ll explain the situation as best they know how, but for example say it has to do with sharing. If they’re sibling or friend isn’t sharing ask them how they want to address the issue. If it’s something doable encourage them to do it, or offer a solution like setting a timer to foster sharing.
Getting your children to listen better, always begins with consistency.
As parents or caregivers, you’re allowed to mess up, but the key to getting your kids to listen to you is work on the techniques above, consistently.
Work on using a single word to keep them on track, give them all the information they need about the situation, provide options, state your expectations of the situation, and help them express their feelings. When you have more of a defined path of how to get your kids to listen better, you can do it more consistently and the home environment becomes calmer.
Getting kids to listen can be tough, so hang in there!
With the approaching school year on its way, you may need an after-school facility. Find out more about what we offer in the Antioch area! Call today!