We’ve all been the parent scratching our head, or pulling out our hair, because we just can’t get our children to listen to us. This can be extremely frustrating when you feel like your child isn’t listening to you. You may even start to question your parenting. Don’t let this lack of listening get you down, try a different approach. We’ve collected a few tips for you to implement in your communication skills with your children.
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Level Up to Your Child
When you need your child’s attention, you need to make sure you have eye contact with your child. Get down on your child’s level and look them in their eyes. This can feel like a pain, especially if you’re in the middle of working or doing household chores, however getting on their level confirms that they can see and hear you, but it strengthens your communication with your child.
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See What Your Child Sees
While your priorities are different from your child's, that doesn’t mean you can’t have good communication. You or your child don’t need to change your priorities, but you can show your child that you can see and understand their priorities. When you need them to stop a game or behavior try saying: “It is hard to stop playing. I can see you are having fun with those toys. But now I need you to clean up.”
Put Down The Negative and Use The Positive
Negative words and negative commands make children double process. This means your child has to answer two questions: what are they NOT to do? and what are they to DO. This can be confusing for a young child. Try replacing negative commands by telling your child what to do. Here’s an example. Rather than saying: “Don’t leave your toys on the floor”. Try saying: “Please put your toys away”.
Try Saying “Yes” to the Request
If you are overloaded with requests from a child, you are a parent. With all of the demands and requests from your child you may automatically jump to telling your child “no”. However, your child picks up on you saying “no” or not listening to their requests and begins not listening to your requests. Find ways to say “yes” more often, this will make your child start to pay more attention. Here is an example. Rather than saying: “No, we’re not having ice cream for dinner”. Try: “I love ice cream, it is yummy! Would you like to have it for dessert on Saturday evening?”. There will always be times that you will need to say “no” but offering more “yes” answers will start to help your child listen!
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It’s easy to get into a lecture when you want to explain yourself to your child. However, keep your answers simple and to the point so you keep your child’s attention. Your child will be more likely to listen to you.
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Thank You Goes a Long Way
While picking up toys may be your child’s responsibility, throwing in a thank you will encourage your child to do the behavior you’re requesting. Letting your child know you trust them to do the right thing and complete the task you’ve asked them to do! Try saying: “Thank you for cleaning up your room, when you’re done playing with your toys.”
Check for Understanding
An easy way to make sure your child heard you and understands is to ask them to repeat what you said. This also ensures that they didn’t misunderstand what you were asking them to do. Make sure you have your child’s attention and eye contact, keep your request short and simple, then nicely ask your child to repeat what they heard.
If you’ve ever felt like your child isn’t listening to you, don’t worry you’re in good company. Try using some of these communication tips to build a better understanding between your child and yourself. These may not work the first time, but keep trying to do your best, you’ll begin to see a difference in your communication with your child.