How to get your child to listen?
Is listening something that your child struggles with? Do you find yourself in situations with your child were you feel that they are completely ignoring you? This can be extremely frustrating and can very easily escalate into something much bigger for both parties. Here are some top tips to help you out the next time this happens.
- Attention first
Firstly, make sure that you connect with your child prior to asking them a question or giving them a command. You can do this by getting down on their level, making eye contact or even by a simple touch on their body. You might start by commenting on what they are doing (for example- “wow, I like what you’re doing with the blocks, what did you build?”) allow your child to respond before making your request, this way your child will be much more likely to co-operate.
- Positive interactions
Try to keep your interactions short, simple and on the positive side, using do’s instead of dont’s. Negative commands involving “no” and “don’t” confuse children as they are required to then process two things instead of one (what should I not be doing? And what shall I do instead?) So, instead of telling your child “Don’t throw the toys all over the floor” you could say “Please keep the toys inside the basket”. This way they only have to listen, process and respond to one thing, therefore your child will be more likely to follow through with the command.
- Offer choices
If your ever stuck in a stand-off with your child and they are being very persistent about a particular matter, this next tactic can work wonders and it’s as simple as offering your child a choice. For example, “which shoe do you want to put on first? This one or this one? This allows your child to think that they are the one in control. Children of all ages have a hard-wired need for power. When children don’t have opportunities to exert their power in positive ways such as choosing what clothes to wear or picking what game to play they tend to exert their power in negative ways, this is where you will see the challenging behavior. The choice allows them to feel like they are in control, when really they are doing exactly what you are asking them to do.
- Say thank you beforehand
All people (children through to adults) thrive from being managed in a positive way. Think about it, if you worked for a company or boss who frequently plagued you with commands, would you feel like cooperating? So therefore, try and minimize the orders that you give and try and maintain happy and positive interactions with your child instead. A simple way to do this is by saying thank you to your child before you give your instruction. Your child will understand that you trust them to follow through with the direction that you are giving, increasing the likelihood of them actually doing it. So try saying “thank you for cleaning up your toys when you have finished with them, it makes me so happy”. Your child will be more likely to want to clean up their toys!
- Routine, Routine, Routine
Lastly, as we all know and understand a solid routine is imperative and also ensures that children are naturally conditioned to what is about to happen. When a child is settled into a routine they are already expecting that you are about to ask them to tidy up or brush their teeth or go to bed (especially if you give a warning a few minutes before), whilst this might not work all the time having a routine will help to minimize the likelihood of your child ‘not listening’ as such, as they are already aware of what’s about to come.