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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

how to get your kids to listen

"Why don't you listen to me?"

"I feel so frustrated, my kids ignore me!"

"If you don't listen I'm going to..."
Ahhhhh - the ears are turned off and your anger is on the rise.  They don't listen.  You try to ask nice but it's like they are purposely ignoring you.  You are at your wits end and don't know what to do.

Getting your kids to listen is not an easy task for any parent.  I know my boys have days where their ears are permenently shut off and I'm climbing the walls with frustration, ready to explode!

So how can you get your kids to listen without declaring an act of war?

Well for starters--one thing I always try to remember is how I felt as a kid.  When dealing with my own children I try to put myself in their shoes, their young minds, what it felt like when I was younger and felt misunderstood or frustrated, and I always try to remember THEY ARE NOT doing this because they are out to get me.

As a parent it's easy to say - just do it - give no choices - because I said so and it's because you are the boss right?  I mean kids are supposed to listen.  They are suppose to do what they are told.  They aren't suppose to talk back, have their own thoughts or feelings or go against something you've said.

For kids--life can be confusing, hormonal, worrisome, challenging and kids need to know that although yes there are boundaries, rules in place for them to follow, guidance and options are a better way of approach instead of putting down the hammer and giving them no freedom for their feelings.

Pick and choose your battles...

What do your kids do that upsets you?  Leave their shoes out?  Don't hang up their jackets?  Not keeping their rooms clean?  Don't do their homework... or whine about their chores?

When my boys arefuse to listen or ignore me when I'm speaking I do the same thing back to them.  It might seems childish at first, but when I do this they get upset because they see how their behavior reflects when I do the same thing back.  Then I go on to explain to them how they felt when mommy ignored them is how mommy feels when they act the same way, so they better understand how their not listening affects us both.

Leaving stuff lying around and not cleaning up.

Many parents complain about this.  My kids do the same thing.  They get lazy and some days I feel more like a maid who doesn't get paid, picking up after them constantly and it's frustrating.  So how can you get your kids to pick up after themselves?

Have consequences.

Consequences work in our home because my boys know that for something they do, either good or bad choices there will be consequences for their actions.  If they leave their shoes out, I put them outside where they rain the possibility of getting wet.  If they leave their toys out, I put them in the time out box where they stay until they realize their actions are governed by their choices.  It works! 

Note: Be careful though, guess where my shoes went when I left them out?

Distractions are a parents worst nightmare during communication.

FD always gets upset with the boys for not listening when he's trying to talk to them but distractions play a very big part.  Television on, radio playing in the background, long lectures (kids tune out), smaller children around, long days at school.  Removing distractions is a parents best defense to getting your kids to listen.  Find a quiet spot before talking, make sure your kids are ready to listen and proceed with your communication.

And finally a great way to teach your kids to listen is to teach them to talk.  I know you're saying "Huh?"  My kids know how to talk.  But do they?  I want my kids to listen and not talk.

As a family we have chat sessions where we practice not only listening, but talking as well.  We take turns as a family speaking about our feelings, and awknowledging the other person by repeating back what we've heard, which is great listening tool.  Doing this shows a care and respect for the other person's feelings that you are indeed LISTENING.  You cannot expect kids to listen if they don't first understand how to share their feelings respectfully and responsibly and use their words effectively with others.

Remember open and honest communication is important in any family.  No matter what you are dealing with, you can do this -- together.



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