A well-rested baby makes life easier for everyone on a whole variety of other parenting challenges, but it’s not like your kids are going to be perfect angels just because they’re getting enough sleep. They’re going to throw tantrums, they’re going to test the boundaries, and maybe the most frustrating one of all, they’re going to ignore you.
Which, and I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way, is seriously annoying.
When you’re running around the house, madly trying to get everything ready for the day, packing lunches, scheduling appointments, tracking down lost shoes, and any of the 1000 other responsibilities you have, and your little one seems to have completely tuned out your sixth request for them to get their coat on, the frustration level can really hit a peak.
So today, I’ve got a quick video for you with some simple, effective tips to help you improve your communication strategy with your child, and dare I say it, actually get them to listen to you!Rather read than watch? Click here.
The first thing is to think about what are we really saying when we say our kids won’t listen? I think what we need to shift is the fact that our kids are listening. They are just not responding. And there’s a big difference in those two things. Your kids can hear you. They’re just not acting in the way you want them to. So once we get clear about that, that this isn’t a matter of listening, this is a matter of responding, then we can course correct the situation.
So my first tip is to get in eye view of your child. So many of us, and I’m to blame too, you’re running late, you’re trying to get out the door, you’re hollering from your bedroom, bathroom, “get your shoes on, get your bags ready,” and that’s not really an effective way to get people to respond. So I get it, it’s tough to do, but it’s gonna cut down on your frustration levels in the long run. So leave the bedroom, go into the room where your child is and get eye to eye with them. Get down to their level, look them in the eye and say “this is what I need you to do. I need you to do one, two, and three.” Or try to keep it very simple.
If we’re talking about really little ones, one project at a time, one request at a time. “What I need you to do is go and get your backpack.” That’s it, right. Now they’re going to get their backpack. Then you can say “now I need you to find your shoes.” And get their shoes. Put them on. And that’s gonna help cut down on your frustration because you can see them respond to the requests that you’ve made. Let’s say your child doesn’t do what you’ve asked. Now, there needs to be some sort of a consequence to not responding to your request. Because if you don’t give a consequence or you don’t set a parameter around this, what tends to happen is that you just escalate. You get louder and louder until you’re now yelling at your children to do what you’ve asked or get themselves ready or whatever it is. And the more often you do that, the more they tune you out.
For those of you who remember Charlie Brown, it’s kind of like his teacher. Remember Charlie Brown’s teacher was just wa wa wa in the background. And that’s what will, that’s what you will become if that’s your strategy.
Now, it works on some kids. The louder you yell, finally it hits a pitch in which they do jump into action. But that’s not fun for you. It leaves you feeling frantic and angry and frustrated. And it’s not fun for your child because what’s happening then is that they’re just motivated by fear. They’re motivated by the loudness of your voice. It’s getting them to act. And what they’ll do is they’ll start to wait until you get loud enough that it provokes some fear in them that they’re gonna respond. So what do we do if they don’t respond?
My best strategy is to give consequences. So I would say to my child, “that’s one.” And see what they do. For a lot of kids, once they get good at this, as soon as they hear you say “that’s one,” they’re gonna jump into action. Let’s say they do not this time, respond to, that’s one. Now you say “that’s two.” When you get past that two, now it’s a consequence.
And listen, I know some people are, get all their backs up about consequences. But listen, there’s nothing wrong with consequencing your child. I mean, if they do what you ask then we will award them with praise. If they don’t, then what, what are you left with? The only strategy you have in that case is again, look to get louder and louder and louder, which actually is a consequence too. If you get past two, then now it’s a timeout. I, you know, timeouts are very, very effective strategies for getting children to respond to requests. And you’re gonna make it age appropriate. So let’s see, your child’s five. They, they didn’t listen. They didn’t respond to your request. You gave them one warning, you gave them a second warning and now it’s time for timeout.
So timeouts are kind of a different topic altogether. But a good strategy for timeout is just a sitting on a stool or going to a timeout spot in the house, a designated spot, setting a timer, five minutes. They know they need to wait until the timer goes and then they can try again. And that’s a great way to start moving towards having your children respond to you when you make requests.
Thanks for watching today. Sleep well.
If your baby, infant or toddler is having trouble sleeping through the night, help is just a click away! The Sleep Sense Program has helped over 107,000 parents to get their kids sleeping 11-12 hours through the night AND taking long, restful naps during the day. If you’re ready to get started – I’m looking forward to helping you!
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