It’s always a big day in every parent’s life when their child discovers the word, “No!” When children find out that they can disagree, parents have a new challenge on their hands: how to raise children that listen to you.
Unfortunately, many parents unknowingly resort to controlling and manipulative behavior in order to get their child to listen to them. It might be effective but it’s not the best approach.
But with a little knowledge, self-awareness, and practice, your child will be more cooperative and listen better.
The best place to start? You!
It’s important to model the type of behavior you want your children to follow. Because after all, it takes two to tango. And in order to raise respectful children, you have to pay attention to how you communicate with them. Here are 9 useful tips to help you raise children that listen.
1. Set the Stage for Listening
Before a show begins, the audience is asked to turn off their cell phones. The lights dim and the curtain opens. In short, the audience knows when they have to pay attention.
Do the same with your children. Set the stage for good listening by going to them, obtaining eye contact and even holding their hand or touching them gently. Let them know that you that it’s time to listen because you have something to say.
2. Connect Instead of Control
If you need to get things done, you might feel the need to take advantage of your authoritative position.
But instead of controlling your children’s behavior, make sure you take time to connect with them before you make a request or command.
You can do this by using their first name, and by first acknowledging what they were doing when you came to them. Children can easily get caught up in their activities, so take the time to connect before you request something of them.
3. Keep it Short and Sweet
If you preach, ramble or berate, children just turn off.
And if you use complicated and advanced language, they’ll just space out.
That’s because they can’t communicate on that level yet. So, try to make your requests simple enough so they can repeat it back to you.
Even by using single words like, “beds” or “laundry”, you give your children exact and simple commands that they can easily understand and follow.
4. Inform Them
Growing up, you probably heard your parents say, “Because I said so”. But this can set up dysfunctional communication patterns.
So, when your children balk at your requests, give them information about why you made that request. Dr. Sears encourages parents to use phrases like, “When you…I feel…because…”
It’s also better to say “When you…then…”, rather than “If you…then…”. That’s because if you say “if”, you’re implying that you don’t actually expect them to follow through with what you said.
Along these same lines, just remember that no one likes to be bossed or pushed around.
So, if your children are misbehaving, try not to use the word, “don’t” too much. Instead, try to inform them of why a different behavior is better.
5. Empower Children
Children need to learn to listen and respect others, but they are also individuals. So, it’s important to give them opportunities to make choices and take ownership of their behavior, spaces, and activities.
You can make sure these tasks are doable. And you can tap into your child’s natural desire to do things on his own and to solve problems.
Instead of basic commands, poise a question to them so that in answering your question, they develop a solution to the problem you’d like them to solve (messy room, dirty dishes, disorganized toys, etc.).
6. Get on the Same Page
You can get on the same page by setting expectations. When children know what to expect and have a structure to follow, you’re less likely to meet resistance.
Because children like to know what’s coming. Do you plan to only let them watch one episode of their favorite show? Make sure they know that!
7. Give Positive Reinforcement
Maybe it’s more common to dish out disapproval and reprimands, but it’s better to give approval for good behavior than disapproval for bad behavior.
Because it feels good to the children and it’s something they will naturally want more of. By acknowledging their good actions in a positive way, children will feel more inclined to listen and behave well.
You can give them an active role in this recognition by letting them place stickers on a chart. Or, by letting them discuss their experiences together with the family around the dinner table.
8. Stay Consistent
It’s important for parents to set reasonable expectations for both their children and themselves.
Children need to be capable of completing your requests, and parents need to be able to stay consistent when their children disobey or ignore. If not, “you may be unintentionally teaching your kids that you can be ignored”!
It’s always tempting to just throw in the towel when children misbehave, but in the long run, you’re teaching your children a very negative lesson: if they ignore you long enough, they won’t have to follow through with your requests or demands!
And no one wants their children to develop this trait, so don’t be afraid to be kind but firm.
9. Get to Know Your Child
Not all children are the same and some kids may ignore or disobey you for different reasons.
But if you can learn your child’s personality and energy type, you might have an easier time understanding why they challenge you sometimes. By understanding their motives, you can give explanations and information that motivate them to behave respectfully.
As you can see, raising children who listen requires some self-awareness, but these nine, easy tips help you create a functional relationship with your children, where communication is open, respectful and productive.