As parents, we all want our children to listen to us. We all want them to do things according to us. We want them to understand us. When they don’t listen to us, we call them stubborn and persistent. It is easy to lay the blame on our little ones. However, it is important to understand that sometimes even parents can be at fault. We need to keep in mind a few things before we speak to our little one. Now there are three different communication styles that parents use –
Aggressive Communication Style
Passive Communication Style
Assertive Communication Style
I am not going to explain in detail the first two styles. All I want to say is that these are styles that you don’t want to use. You want to try and adopt the assertive communication style. Assertive communication style requires you to be firm and confident about what you say. A lot of communication happens through physical gestures, facial expressions, and tone of voice. The assertive style comes naturally to some parents whereas some parents need to try a little more to adopt this style. However, everything takes time, practice, and effort.
Use your child’s name
You must use your child’s name before you tell them what to do. Calling out your child’s name is a great way to get his/her attention. Once you have his/her attention then you tell them what needs to be done. For example, if I want Veer to sit for class, I am going to first call out his name – Veer and then pause for a moment. Once I know I have his attention I am going to tell him that he needs to sit for the class in 10 minutes. This is a great strategy. Even though it’s very simple it is a very very effective tool to use if you want your child to listen to you.
Use positive messages
Refrain from using negatives statements like “Don’t jump on the sofa”, “No shoes on the bed”, “No coloring on the wall.”, etc. Instead try to use positive statements like “Only jumping on the floor”, “Shoes on the floor”, “Maybe you can color on this paper”, etc. It is easier when you give your child a positive alternative instead of just asking him/her to stop his/her current activity.
Avoid labeling your child
Do not tell your child things like “You are a naughty boy”, “You don’t listen to me at all”, “You don’t eat anything at all”, etc. By doing so you are reinforcing the behavior that you wish to eliminate. Nobody likes to be ridiculed, judged, or shamed. Our kids are no different from us. They like to do things when they are asked to do with respect. “Please can you switch on the light?” is very different from “Hey! Put the lights on.” The way you speak makes all the difference. When you say kind words to your child, your child is happier and is more likely to do what you want them to do. By speaking with respect you are not just ensuring that your child is more likely to listen to you but also encouraging him/her to speak concerning you and other people that he/she encounters. Connect with your childMake sure that you have connected with your child before you just start to speak. The best way to connect is to make eye contact and to get down to their level. Once you have their attention, call out their name to make sure that they are listening and then start to talk. Just walking into their space and telling them that what needs to be done won’t give you any results.
Use The Right Volume
Using the right volume while speaking to your child is very important. The tone and the volume of your voice can make all the difference. Using a loud yelling tone all the time won’t make your yelling effective when you are genuinely angry. Safe the yelling for extreme situations. Talking in a firm, low and kind tone is more likely to give you the desired results.
Give options and alternatives
This is a beautiful and very effective strategy. Kids are more likely to listen to you and make a choice when they are given options. For example, “Do you want to wear the black shirt or the white shirt?” “Do you want to play indoor or outdoor?” “Do you want milk or juice?” “Do you want to paint or play with blocks?” Give a maximum of two to three options. When kids pick an option themselves, then they are more likely to act on it. This not only makes life very easy for you as a parent but also encourages your child to think for himself/herself. They learn to make choices and then face the consequences of the choices that they make. This is such an important life skill. Now, this was about giving options. The next thing that you need to do is give alternatives. When you want your child to stop a current activity that he/she is involved in, then don’t just ask them to stop. Instead, try to give them options to do other things after they have stopped the current activity. For example, “No painting, but you can use crayons for now.” “No screen-time now but you can have some water play now.” “No chips now but I can make you yummy mango shake instead.” Giving alternatives helps them to switch to action mode immediately after they have stopped the activity that you didn’t want them to engage in. When they are involved in a new activity then they are happier and less confused about what to do. In that case, they are more likely to listen to you.
Kids understand better if they are just asked to do one thing at a time. Do not give them multiple instructions at the same time. Giving too many instructions at the same time can confuse your child and he/she might end up not doing anything at all. The best thing to do is ask them to finish one thing and once that’s done you can ask them to do the next thing. This is going to ensure a higher success rate for sure.
Try Not to Nag
Try to set a system of limits and rewards for your kids. What this means is that you can tell your child, if you clean up your room every day you get 20 minutes of screentime. Once you have set the rule, you don’t have to keep asking your child to clean his/her room. He/she already knows that if they don’t clean their room they will get no screen time. By setting up a system in advance and following up on the same can prevent you from constantly nagging the child. The child and the parent both prefer to avoid nagging. This system also enables you to recognize and reward good behavior. Which in turn encourages your child to adopt more good behaviors in the long run.
Kids Always Mirror Parents
Parents are kid’s first role models. They tend to mirror parents both by choice and naturally. They don’t just talk, but also walk and act like their parents. Hence, set the right example for them by listening to them. If you listen to your child then your child is more likely to listen to you. If you use the words thank you, please, sorry, you’re welcome, excuse me, etc then your child is more likely to use these words. If you don’t use the word too often then your child is also going to do the same. Getting your child to listen to you requires you to model the right behavior and set the right example for them.
Ask in a gentle but firm tone
This is a skill that you need to work on. You need to ask your child to do things in a gentle but firm tone. Your tone of voice should emphasize the urgency and seriousness of the work that you want them to do. One other thing to be mindful of is that both the parents are sending the same message to the child in the same tone. Requests made in a casual unsure tone might not result in your child taking action.
Check if your child is following
This is a very important thing to do if you feel that your child looks lost or isn’t reacting to your request. Double-check to see if your child is following/understanding the request. The best way to check is to ask your child to repeat and tell you what they have understood. If they fail to respond then you might try explaining your request in easier, shorter, and simpler sentences. Make sure you have done this before you jump ahead and call your child stubborn.
Wait For Them To Finish
More often than not we take our little ones by surprise. We ask them to do things when they are very engrossed and involved in some other activity. You must wait for them to finish before you bombard them with your requests. They will be more willing to listen to you then. Have one on one conversation with your child Find opportunities to have one on one conversations with your child. This is going to help improve your parent-child relationship and a happy content child is always more likely to listen to his/her parents. One-on-one conversations can also help you use the right words and vocabulary while conversing with your child. It is particularly important to have these one-on-one interactions if you have more than one child.
Let go of some things
Don’t be hard on your child all the time. Let go of a few things. Don’t correct and check them for every single thing that they do. If you are nagging and checking all the time then your child is going to get used to your behavior and stop responding to you.
Ask open-ended questions
Instead of correcting or telling them what to do all the time, you can switch to asking them a series of open-ended questions. For example, Instead of saying, “Do your homework “ you can ask your child “ why don’t you like to do your homework?” “Eat on your own” you can say “why don’t you like to eat on your own?” “No more jumping on the sofa” you can say “When do you think you want to stop?” Asking these open-ended questions forces your child to think.
Treat Them Like Adults
Treat your kids like you would treat any other member of the family. Talk to them like you would talk to your spouse, in-laws, friends, relatives, and acquaintances. Just like we take a moment to speak to other members of the family, we must do that same before we speak to our kids. This small pause can help us respond instead of reacting to our kids.
Acknowledge Their Emotions
Be easy on your child. Acknowledge their emotions of fear, anger, irritation, boredom, etc. It is important to address their emotions before we try to correct their behavior. When you pay attention to your child’s emotion they are likely to do the same for you.
When your child is speaking or sharing an incident with you, give them 100% attention. Do not interrupt them in between. What this means is that if your child is telling you that he jumped from a high stool in his friend’s house, let him finish the story first. Don’t correct him and tell him not to jump from a high stool while he is narrating the story to you. Wait for him to finish before you start to correct him and tell him what is the right thing to do. If you interrupt their conversations with corrections very often, they are going to stop sharing new stories with you. When you listen to your child, you are setting the right example for them and they are more likely to listen to you.
Talk a lot to your child
Have two-way communication with your child. The more you talk the more comfortable, easy, open and close your bond with your child is. Remember! This is talking and not correcting or arguing with your child. The stronger the bond between you and your child is, the more willing they are to listen to you and do the things that you want them to do.
This might seem a very overwhelming list. But trust me this is going to come very naturally to you. The more you practice the more natural it becomes. Start taking small steps. Remember each interaction that you have with your child adds up. These day-to-day small interactions can determine how much your child wants to listen to you.