My son is a CIT at a local day camp here. After the first day of camp, he complained, “My campers just don’t listen! It is really hard being a counselor!”
All parents know this feeling. There is nothing so frustrating for a parent as when their kids do not listen to them. When we are home with our kids in the summer, it seems worse.
We all know that kids have found lots of ways to disregard their parents and their directives.
Sometimes kids will ignore their parents:
Parent: “Hello, Earth to Sam, I asked you 10 minutes ago to put away your book and set the table.”
Sometimes kids might forget:
Parent: You were supposed to take the garbage out today before you left for camp!”
And sometimes kids might defy:
Child: “You can’t tell me what to do! I won’t clean my room!”
Even though we might get angry at our kids and rightfully so, this is the time that we need to be most patient and encouraging. It is at this time that kids need to believe that we have faith in their goodness and that they have the ability to do what they are told.
Many times when kids don’t listen we reinforce their role as a non-compliant child. We might say “You never listen!” Kids believe what they are told. They might think, “My Dad said I don’t listen, I am not a good listener, so why should I even try.” If they are a more independent kind of kid, they might think, “I will show them, if they think I don’t listen now, they should just wait. It is just going to get worse. I am never going to listen again.”
That is why we need to be kind and encouraging. When we show confidence in our kids they start to develop confidence in themselves. They might not be able to do what we ask right away but we want to send the message that down the line they have it in themselves to listen and to be an active, productive, contributing member of the family.
We want to encourage our kids. To the child who ignores, we can say:
• “Sam, I need you attention. It seems that you didn’t hear me the first time I asked. I know that this time you can close your book and to set the table.”
To the child who forgets, we can say:
• “I know you forgot to take out the garbage, but I also know you will figure out a way to remember next time.”
To the defiant child we can say:
• “I know that you rather I not tell you what to do. In this family we work together. I know you will figure out a way to clean your room.”
Encouraging kids by showing we have faith and confidence in their ability to listen comply and obey can go a long way in creating a positive environment in our homes. It will also help by fostering emotional health in our children. It can even work if you’re a CIT in a summer camp. It might even get my son’s campers to listen to him!
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.