The biggest complaint I hear from parents is along these lines:
My kids don’t listen to me!
No matter what I say to my children they don’t cooperate!
How can I get my kids to do what I tell them?
It is quite frustrating for parents (myself included) when kids do not listen. There are so many things to be done and we need our kids to cooperate. In the mornings, kids need to wake up, get dressed, brush their teeth, eat breakfast, pack up and go. In the evenings, it is dinner, homework, bath and pajama time. There are so many opportunities for them to listen, or not, and when kids don’t want to do what we tell them it can be a real challenge.
Is there a way that we can make our kids listen? That’s a pretty heavy request. We might want to phrase it a bit differently. We really should ask, “How can we HELP our kids listen?” And that is the essence of the problem because really, our job as a parent is to teach our kids how to listen.
We need to remember the following when helping our kids learn how to listen:
- It is not easy to listen. It requires a lot of concentration.
- Nobody likes to be told what to do. It can be demoralizing to listen to commands all day long.
- Kids who have a structured environment and schedule have an easier time listening.
- We as parents need to be realistic about what our children can and cannot do.
- Kids who are discouraged, because they can’t meet all of our demands, will “not listen” in protest.
- When we include our kids in the day-to-day decision-making, they will be more likely to listen.
- We can help children feel in charge of themselves so they are more compelled to listen.
Deep down kids want our approval desperately. They do want to listen and cooperate. This is the real tough part: They just need us to be loving and patient as they learn the not-so-simple task of how to listen.
Adina Soclof, MS. CCC-SLP, works as a Parent Educator for Bellefaire Jewish Children’s Bureau facilitating How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk workshops as well as workshops based on Siblings Without Rivalry. Adina also runs parentingsimply.com.