A plethora of internet memes have been created to explain one of parenting’s’ biggest dilemmas, getting your child to listen to you. If you have ever had to tell your toddler to stop climbing on something multiple times, shouted for a child to brush their teeth every two minutes or tried to get them to do their chores after only asking once – we feel your pain. Instead of losing your patience, take a deep breath and try the following steps to get better results.
1) Eye contact
The basis of this step is, if your child isn’t looking at you while you talk to them, then they’re probably not hearing you. Before giving instructions or asking them something, make sure you have their full attention. Bend down so that you are eye level with them, and then tell them to focus on you. “Stop what you’re doing and look at me. Good. Now listen to what I am going to tell you.” This immediately let’s their brain know that there is important information coming next.
2) Keep it simple
The younger your child is, the harder it is to follow multiple instructions. You might reel off three things they need to do, but they will only hear one of them. Instead, tell them one thing at a time. Keep your language simple and to the point so that they grasp the important thing they need to do within your instruction. If you are wanting them to clean up their toys, simply say “Toys” and point to the ones you are referring to. If it is common practice for you to ask them to do this, they will know what you are talking about.
3) Let them decide
This may seem counter-productive, but it works! Giving your child the free will to decide the right course of action not only teaches them right from wrong, but will more than likely spur them into doing what is needed. “If people don’t brush their teeth properly every morning, they can go rotten”. This gives your child the choice to go and brush their teeth as well as the information as to what will happen if they don’t.
While this might sound like you are heading down a slippery slope in terms of control, it actually works. The key is to give your child two choices – both being ones that you are happy with. “You can put on your shoes now, or after you eat your breakfast – you choose.” Giving them an option makes them feel like they have the power to control what they do, which will more than likely get them doing what you want. It is important to note that each child is unique, with different personalities and levels of stubbornness. While one of the above may work for you, another one may not. Try them all, and see which ones bring the most peace to your household.
Toptots Early Learning SA