You can train your child to hear what you say the first time that you say something. You can also train them to ignore you. Children who listen to their parents are a source of joy, but children who don’t listen can be a constant source of frustration.
Our actions can either train our kids to listen—or train them not to listen. Years ago, I witnessed a parent in an airport issue order after order to the parent’s child. The child never obeyed any of these orders and was running uncontrollably among other travelers, causing great irritation. The child came to me, and I asked him, “What’s your mom going to do when if you don’t do what she says?” He replied, “Nothing.”
I took a lot of will-power for me not to say, “I’ve known a lot of five-year old kids who listen to their parents. But their parents mean what they say to their kids.”
Teaching kids to listen is not difficult or complicated. Here are four steps you can take to help your kids learn how to listen:
First, make a commitment that you will never repeat yourself. Children will unconsciously learn how many times each parent will repeat a request before the parent takes action. By not repeating yourself, your child will learn that you will only say something once before you take action. If you consistently respond multiple times, your child will learn to respond as many times as you repeat your request.
Second, be prepared to act. There must be consequences when a child fails to listen the first time a parent makes a request.
Third, never accept, “But I didn’t hear you,” as an excuse. You should respond with, “How sad not to be listening. Maybe your ears will get better.” This must be said without sarcasm and the consequences must always be preceded with sincere empathy.
Fourth, be prepared for kids to have a fit about not getting their way. Even though this will be uncomfortable, you must keep in mind the long-term goal of raising a well-behaved child and that this is one of the growing pains that kids experience.
Training and expecting kids to listen is one of a parent’s greatest gifts. It’s the Love and Logic way. Our audio, The Gift of Limits: Why Kids Who Have Them Feel Safer and More Loved provides excellent help with teaching kids to become respectful and self-controlled.
Thanks for reading!