Why Aren’t You Listening To Me?!
“If the person you are talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient.
It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.“
~ Winnie The Pooh
Is that why my kids appear to not be listening? Just a small piece of fluff in their ear? Blocking all requests that sound anything like “Make your bed”, “Clean your room”, “Brush your teeth”, Do your homework”, Turn off the TV/Video game”, “Come here”, “Stop fighting with your brother/sister” , Keep your hands to yourself”, so on and so on.
UGH! Nothing is more frustrating than feeling like your kids are ignoring you and let’s be real here, most often they are simply ignoring my requests. However, there’s a difference between hearing and listening. Your child most likely can hear you (unless of course there really is a piece of fluff in their ear) rather, it’s a skill they master early (probably inherited from dad) called “selective hearing” they simply are not listening to what they hear because they don’t want to do it.
Listening isn’t an instinctive behavior but a learned one, yes that’s right a learned behavior.
I know that getting my children to listen is important because it helps them with safety, building friendships, the quality of their education and avoiding punishment.
I tend to raise my voice and get angry when my kids aren’t “listening” to me and I hate that I do that. I hate yelling at them to do something that they should already know to do or not to do.
So helping them learn to listen starts with me, I need to change how I react when it appears they are ignoring me yet again! I know that there really isn’t any need to raise my voice because they clearly heard me the first time, what I want is for them to act on what they heard so I know they were listening. Especially is this important to me because of my dear son’s latest complaint: “you’re nagging me and it’s annoying.” Seriously?! Me nagging? “Well, I wouldn’t have to nag if you listened the first time I asked, that’s really annoying!”
Clear indication that I haven’t been doing the greatest job of consistently teaching and showing my children how to listen.
Here are some steps I’m taking to try to help them learn the great art of listening and acting sooner rather than later:
Set the Example: “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” ― Benjamin Franklin
Listen to my children. Take my eyes away from the computer, my phone, the TV, get on their level, make eye contact and give them my full attention. Repeat what it is they have asked me. Ask questions about the story they are telling me.
Tone of Voice: Unless they are getting ready to run in the street or touch a hot stove, there’s no need to raise my voice. Communicate from close by means I can keep my tone calm, instead of shouting from the other room. (I really need to work on that one!) Besides, yelling really isn’t a trait I want to pass on to my kids.
Use their Name: Saying their name will help get my child’s attention.
KISS (Keep it simple, stupid): Keep it simple and to the point. I know that my daughter has a very short attention span and can handle only one command/task at a time. So one at a time is best.
Have Them Repeat What I Said: Unless the child is too young to speak, have them repeat what it is I want them to do.
Stay Positive: This can be tough but we all know a positive message is easier to follow than a negative one spoken harshly. Instead of “no running” try: “we walk in the house, you can run outside.” Because we all know when we say NO RUNNING, they hear KEEP RUNNING AND RUN FASTER. Avoid accusing statements such as, “you never listen.” See Reward Good Behavior below.
Consequence: Helping my child learn the art of listening means also teaching them that there are negative consequences for not listening. However, avoid empty threats, trust me on this, your child quickly learns that when you say: If you don’t pick up your toys I’m going to throw them all away” you’re not really going to throw them all away and that if you say: “Hurry up or I’m leaving without you”, you’re really not going to leave without them.
Ask once nicely, once firmly and then take action. If you, like me typically repeat yourself several times before you take action, your child will learn to ignore your initial requests. How do I know this? My son told me so. When I asked, “why didn’t you listen when I called you?” and his response was, “Oh because you only called me one time.” Ahhhhhhh!
Reward Good Behavior : Reward the behavior that I want more of by acknowledging just how much I appreciated that they listened and acted on what I asked of them. It can be a physical reward (treat, sticker, $, etc) Or I can simply show them just how listening benefited them. (ie: They didn’t have to hear me nag, their bedroom looks so nice and clean, homework is done early now they can play and have fun, no one is crying in pain because they kept their hands to themselves, their teeth are healthy & cavity free because they brush & floss, and my favorite: “WOW! What a great morning we had, because you both listened so well we actually got out the door on time, now you can show up at school happy & not rushed.”) I can see it on their sweet little faces that they are so proud to have a happy mom because they listened. (Hey, we all know it’s true, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”) That being said, I try to remember to always thank them for listening.
It is my hope that by consistently putting these steps into action here in our house that my dear children will improve on the learned behavior of listening and act on what they hear. Barring actual fluff in their ears, hmm, better go check their ears first…. 😉
Happy Nagging-free Days to you! 😀
P.S. For my kids sake, (and maybe a little for mine) I must say, our kids most of the time are really quite well-behaved and we do appreciate and acknowledge that fact. 😉
P.P.S. Feel free to share your comments about this post or any other tips that you have found successful in teaching your children to listen. Please stop by and say hello to us on Facebook.