Your Family Today

How to Get Your Kids to Listen

Nagging, yelling and threatening don’t work for long. The best way to get your kids to listen ...

It’s a basic premise for successful parenting: You tell your kids what you want them to do, and they do it. But how often do you resort to yelling or pestering to get that result?

The problem may be you, not your kids, according to parenting expert Dr. Michele Borba, author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries and 22 other books. “We blame the kids for not listening; we tune in to them instead of ourselves,” says Borba. “You have to ask yourself, ‘What could I be doing?’ It’s not just what you say; it’s what you do.”

Getting kids to listen takes a time commitment on your part, both in terms of changing your behavior and getting your message across. These 10 steps will help you gain your children’s respect and compliance.

1. Don’t ask; tell.
Your kids shouldn’t be doing you a favor; they should be respecting what you say. So don’t turn your statements into questions. “Make sure your comment has a period after it,” says Borba. Watch out for that throwaway ending: “OK?”

2. Lower your voice.
It will catch their attention. “They’re not used to you talking quietly; they’re used to you using the opposite tone,” says Borba.

3. Be brief and clear.
Keep it to 10 seconds. If you spend more time than that, they’ll tune you out.

4. Make sure they’ve heard you.
Have your kids parrot back what you’ve just said. You’ll know for sure they understand, and it will reinforce the message that you mean business. (Note: This step requires an additional 10-second time commitment on your part.)

5. Look them in the eye.
“Get eyeball-to-eyeball instead of talking across the room,” advises Borba. Squat or bend over to make direct contact if need be.

6. Be realistic.
If your child is engrossed in something -- a game, a book, a TV show -- don’t expect him to drop it instantly and swing around to listen to you. (Would you be able, or willing, to do the same if you were in the middle of something?)

7. Stand your ground.
Literally. If you don’t get timely compliance, go to your kids and plant your feet in front of them. You don’t have to say anything more. They’ll get the message and know you mean business. “Your expectation is that they stop what they’re doing and listen,” says Borba. “And you’re going to stand there until they do it.”

8. Take action.
If they still don’t budge, walk over and turn off the TV or take away the book. “You’re now retraining your kids: “You don’t listen, you don’t watch. This is how we behave,” says Borba.

9. Model respectful behavior.
Say “please” the first time you call for their attention or tell them what you want them to do. Say “thanks” when they do it. Think of what you’re showing your kids and ask yourself if you would want them to copy it.

It may take a while for your kids to change their behavior, especially if they’ve been tuning you out for a long time. But it may also take you a while to change yours. The good news is, according to Borba: It’s never too late to get your kids to listen to you and follow through.

Photo Credit: @iStockphoto.com/kirin_photo

 

 


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