Meaningful Mommy

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Parenting Tip: Getting Kids to Listen

on June 23, 2014

I’ve written about My Gift (or curse) of Gab. I like to talk. I talk a lot. When I actually listen to myself I hear how many words I use when I’m trying to get my girls to cooperate, or clean up, or get ready to head out the door. More is better right?

According to Positive Discipline A-Z (by Jane Nelsen, ED.D, Lynn Lott, M.A., and H. Steven Glenn) 75 % of parent child conflicts would end if parents used less words. Their theory, children tune out because parents talk too much.

WHAT?! But I’m so thorough describing why, how, where, and when we need to be doing what we’re doing at every given second of every single minute. I’m educating them, it can’t be me. Here’s an example “Ok, girls we need to get going. Put on your shoes, because they protect our feet, make sure you choose proper foot wear for the day, open the door and see how the weather looks today, is it raining? Sunny? What shoes do you think would be best? Should you wear your boots? Oh, get your jacket, the rain coat, no maybe just the light one, do you have your backpack, snack, oh get it off the counter…Why isn’t anyone ready to go?!!” Too much? No, really…you think so? Oh.

Ok, I see it. I would tune out too. it’s exhausting for me and them. Leaving should sound like this. “Girls we need to go. Choose shoes and jacket. Get you backpack and stand by the door.” If I am really worried about their shoe and/or coat choice I should only have what I want to be options available. I can put the Summer sandals into a closet if it’s Fall. I can set the rain boots next to the tennis shoes and only those two pairs as choices. I can hang the rain coat and a light jacket and make those are the only options. It really is easy. I have learned that with good clear instruction for children less is more.

When you ask your kids to do something, use the positive action words “Do this….” instead of saying “Don’t do….”. It’s better to give them the positive action command so they have a clear action to follow. It’s too much to explain what a child shouldn’t be doing. And sometimes it just gives them new ideas on how to be naughty 😉

Acting instead of talking is a huge help sometimes. There is nothing wrong with taking your child by the hand and leading them instead of nagging or counting to three when trying to get your child to do a task. Say for example it’s bath time. Instead of yelling, nagging or giving them the count of three to get upstairs and into the bath, just scoop them up and carry them or gently lead them up the stairs. Act instead of talk.

Also when we are talking to our kids we often think that giving choices builds their independence. The options feel like we are being respectful of their feelings. But when we use wording such as “Will, would, or could”, we are leaving the option wide open for a resounding “No!” If we need our children to do something such as put on a shoes, we need to say, “It’s time to put on your shoes”. There is no negotiation. If you really want to give options make sure the outcome is what you want regardless of the choice, “Would you like to put on you shoes by yourself or have me help you”. Both choices have the same outcome. Shoes on. If we say “Can you, or will you…put on you shoes”, it becomes a question to which the answer is usually No.

In a nutshell 5 tips to get your kids to listen to you:

1. Use less words
2. Be clear
3. Use ‘Do This’ instead of ‘Don’t Do That’
4. Act, don’t talk
5. Don’t ask

*Quick tip: make sure you can see your child’s eyes when you try to direct them or ask them something. They need that visual connection to focus 🙂


Hoping these tips help 🙂 They have helped me for sure!! Happy parenting!

2 responses to “Parenting Tip: Getting Kids to Listen

  1. Your post elaborates on one of my tips I posted today! And yes, using less words and clear instructions works better with kiddos, especially younger one.

Thoughts?? :)

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