We make a request and it seems to fall on deaf ears. So we try again. Crickets. We take a deep breath and remind ourselves that we are trying not to yell…but what else are we supposed to do to make our children listen?
Here are 3 simple tricks that work when your child ignores you.
As a mom that agrees with positive parenting methods, I feel like I am constantly having an inner dialogue with myself about keeping calm, and always looking for new ways to interact with my kids from a place of connection. I recently listened to many different talks from the Positive Parenting Conference (you can get all of the recordings here) and they were so incredibly insightful. In truth, I wondered just how much I would get out of the conference, and assumed it would simply be a refresher course of sorts. It was so much more. It inspired me to try some new techniques, and re-invigorated my affinity for positive parenting and connecting with my kids.
We can interact in a way that helps our children listen.
In Dr. Susan Stiffleman‘s talk, she discussed getting kids to cooperate. Much of her advice began with connection. Being in the moment with a child and validating their feelings about a request. It had me thinking about the different ways I interact with my own children when my requests fall on deaf ears.
This kind of brainstorming let me to identify three tricks that I use of my own, and I began to purposefully implement them as often as I could. When I actually paid attention to just how well these work for us, I actually thought to myself, “Wow, what a difference.”
The Three Tricks
Get on their level. While this a common recommendation, it is also one that we need to be reminded of from time to time. It’s so easy to talk across the room to tell Johnny that you would like him to clean his cars up. But he is busy playing (which is FUN), and you are out of sight asking him to do something unpleasant for him. Walking over to him, getting down on your knees, and making eye contact, are SO impactful, and can save you from making multiple requests (and can save on the patience too).
Whisper. What?? Whisper? YES. Because of our frustration, stress, and decrease in patience, we resort to yelling when our child ignores us. However, when a child is constantly yelled at, it can actually affect the development of the prefrontal cortex, signaling a fight or flight response. Prolonged occurrences of this, and the intellectual and emotional development of the child can actually be impacted. Now, I get it, it happens. I’m not spewing this information to trigger guilt, but simply to offer some perspective, and an alternative. Walking over to a child, and whispering, or talking quietly, can actually have quite the opposite effect. It can spark curiosity for what you have to say. Rather than ending up in ‘shutdown’ mode, our kids actually want to hear us.
Provide a reason. “Because I’m the mom and I said so” makes sense to us. We know our intentions, and we also *usually* know what’s best for our kids. However, kids need to make sense of the world around them. If they aren’t hungry, but you ask them to stop playing to come eat dinner, that doesn’t make sense. Additionally, our kids can’t always make the connection with ‘if A then B‘ on their own like we expect them to. This is largely different than bribery, though it might sound similar.
For example, you are getting ready to leave for the park and ask your toddler to get his shoes. He ignore you. You ask again. Still nothing as he wanders around fidgeting with the toy car in his hand. Let’s implement the three tricks above.
Walk over to him, bend down and quietly say, “Johnny, we need to find your shoes. After you put your shoes on, we can go to the park.”
All of a sudden, the need to stop playing and focus on finding shoes makes sense. Often, children are much more capable and reasonable that we give them credit for!
If you have difficulty with getting your children to listen, or feel like they often ignore you, these three tricks can help avoiding yelling and overall frustration. Try getting on their level, whispering, and providing a reason, or an ‘if A then B‘. Cheers to fewer power struggles and happy homes!
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