As a parent or guardian, it is important that children listen to you. This is not a means of bossing them around but a parent or guardian’s job is to help guide kids down the right path, to teach them valuable life lessons, to help dispense a sense of purpose and responsibility and to make sure that they take care of themselves and remain mindful. At times, it can be difficult to get children to listen and many parents grow frustrated with the difficulties. You may not know what to do or how to handle a situation, but there are some ways you can help better ensure that kids listen to you and that your relationship remains healthy.
Get on Their Level
When parents and guardians get frustrated, some often tend to resort to yelling. However, this does not help any situation and can possibly make matters worse. In order to get another person to listen to you, it helps to better understand why they may not be responsive. Get on your child’s level in order to gain some perspective. Some kids may not be actively trying to ignore their parents but they may simply be acting their age. Try to understand why your child may not be listening and go from there before doing anything else.
Make Your Presence Known
This tip goes hand-in-hand with the previous at times. If children are distracted, it may be more a testament to their age and the current level of their brain development rather than a conscious desire to ignore you. You don’t have to do anything drastic, but sometimes a tap on the shoulder, a gentle touch at the elbow or another sign that you are present can help bring their attention and focus to you and what you have to say to them.
Define Your Limits
Many parents might find themselves yelling their throats hoarse by yelling and calling their child’s name through the house that dinner is ready or it is time to leave for school. Some kids may simply tune out this noise or not understand the urgency, so it is essential to lay down some ground rules. Sit your child down and explain to them what it means when you call their names and what it is that you would like for them to do in response. Tell them that you would like for them to come to you or at least respond, it’s about being respectful. For example: “I would be happy to ask you to put your jacket on but after that we are walking to the car without you.” Let them know that listening is not so much as taking orders from you but more so an integral part of working as a team with the whole family. When it comes to other things such as bedtime, try a three-minute warning, such as “You have three minutes to finish playing your game but when those three minutes are up it is time for bed.” Giving them some space but still laying down rules can help them understand that what you are telling them is important while still giving them some space, as opposed to turning things off without warning or yelling, and calling their name repeatedly.
Children are people in the making, and by explaining to your child why you are telling them what you want can help them understand why they need to do the things that you say. Instead of saying “Because I said so,” so many times, taking the time to explain your reasons and why some things are important will help children listen in the future so that you may not even have to take these extra measures if they take it to heart. Children are people, too, and by understanding them and having them understanding you they can begin to better understand why you tell them to do certain things without feeling like you are bossing them around or being unfair.