How frustrating it is for us as parents, when our little ones, whom we taught to walk and talk, start snapping back at us! What does one do in such situations? How to get your kids to listen to you, when things seem to be getting out of control.
Parenting is a challenging role, because it shapes the character and behavior of children. However, at times, it may also drive you to your wit’s end. It’s important to remember that there’s no perfect method of parenting. Everybody learns by trial and error. Good parenting is all about being open to learning, and never assuming you’re doing the best job at it. This way you won’t feel offended, when you find out otherwise.
Just as there are no perfect parents, there aren’t perfect kids! Those cute, adorable darlings you rocked to sleep, are now snapping, throwing tantrums, and driving you up the wall. However, when children talk back or misbehave, it’s important to remember, they aren’t doing it because they hate you. This is just a sign that your little darlings are growing up and becoming independent.
Children follow commands all day long at school, and the house is the only place where they can exercise their will. Independence is something new to them, and they’re trying it out. They choose to do or not do something. This stage may seem unbearable, but it can be bettered by keeping in mind a few points. Let’s have a look at them.
Use creative ways to instruct kids
“Parenting without a sense of humor is like an accountant who sucks at math”. Humor can draw the seriousness out of parenting, and make it fun for both the child as well as the parent. Giving instructions in funny tones, mimicking a cartoon character, or even doing a comic dance lightens the mood, and motivates the kids to follow them through. Little games when incorporated into routine activities are readily enjoyed by kids.
For example, routine activities like brushing teeth at night can be made more fun by making a song about it. Making funny faces while brushing would also be a good idea. These creative ways of providing instructions will help avoid unwanted tantrums every other night.
Maintain the right level while talking
While it’s natural to just stand there and scold the little one, it’s important for us to understand that the feel of a tall, angry adult standing above and hollering, appears very intimidating to them. Their focus remains fixed on the appearance and not on what’s being said, which is why it is important to come down to their level and then speak.
Be a good listener
“The quickest way for a parent to get a child’s attention is to sit down and look comfortable.” ~ Lane Olinghouse. If we want our kids to listen to us, we need to be good listeners in the first place. So be attentive when your kids narrate the various things they’ve done during the day. When they show you something they are working on, it’s important to stop whatever you are doing, listen to them, and respond appropriately. Half-hearted listening will hurt the child, no matter how busy you are.
Treat them with respect
If you want your kids to listen to you and respect you, you have to show them respect first. Kids learn by observation, so to earn respect you need to respect them too. If your kid comes to you with a query or doubt, stop whatever you are doing, look into their eyes, and answer them. This shows them what they asked was important. So the next time you ask them something, they know they have to stop whatever they are doing, look up, and answer you. They also learn that listening is not an option.
Crime and consequence should be explained in advance
It’s essential to clearly discuss the crime and the consequence that will follow. For example, if your kid is allowed to play video games for an hour, he is to stop exactly by the hour and must also put it away. If the curfew is broken, the consequence is no video games for a specific period of time. The consequences must be reasonable and appropriate for the age. For a 7-8 year old, no video games for the next day will be bad enough, but for a teenager, two weeks without video games would be ap
Try not to deny emotions
Denying emotions can be very confusing and even disheartening for a child. If the child is crying because her grandparents left, it’s not appropriate to say, “there, there, there’s no need to cry”. The child is upset and we need to acknowledge it. Rather you can console your child and assure her by saying, “I know you’re upset, but grandpa and grandma will visit us again next month”.
Avoid shouting and screaming
Instructing the kids to switch off the television, or come for dinner, by yelling at the top of your voice from the kitchen is not appropriate. If they are in the middle of something, wait till they finish. For instance, if they are watching television, go up to them, watch it with them for a few minutes till the next commercial break, and then ask them to switch it off, as dinner is ready. Ask them to wash their hands and come for dinner.
Expecting them to stop whatever they might be doing, the very minute you ask may be too demanding. Respect what they’re doing and they will surely respect you.
Stick to what you say
Being assertive is another part of parenting. If you make a decision, stick to it. If you say, “I won’t take you to meet your cousins if you don’t finish your homework”, stick to it. Don’t just leave to meet your sister and her kids, after your husband comes home. Your credibility will get tarnished. Don’t create a situation like, “Oh mommy says that all the time, she doesn’t mean it”. If you make a decision, go through with it.
An extension of this would be not breaking promises as well. Don’t make promises if you’re not sure about them. And if you make them, try not to break them. The promise can be as simple as, “Hey kids, if you behave at your friend’s birthday party, we can watch your favorite animated movie on Saturday”. Failure to keep your promise will shake their trust in you.
If your child has got a bad remark for not doing his homework, don’t accuse him by saying, “You never do your homework”. Don’t attack your child’s character, but correct the bad behavior. Tell your child, “It’s very disappointing to know you didn’t do your homework yesterday.” Avoid using words like, ‘you always do this’, ‘you never listen”. Try to keep the corrections positive as far as possible.
Say sorry and thank you when needed
We expect our kids to say sorry when they’ve done something wrong, but it’s important for us also to say sorry when we’ve been wrong. If you accused them for dropping water on the floor, when they weren’t to blame, say sorry when you’ve found out you were wrong. By apologizing, you won’t become smaller. Your child must know there’s no alternative to saying sorry when you’ve done wrong. The rules are not different for parents. Again saying thank you when necessary, is equally important.
Take them seriously
The next aspect of respect is respecting their opinion. Just listening to kids is not enough. It is important to make mental notes of their likes and dislikes. If your child doesn’t like a particular hobby, don’t push him into it just because you want him to. If your child tells you the babysitter is nasty to him, don’t ignore it. Children are naive and at times live in their dream world, but it is important to verify the facts before pushing anything aside.
If you’ve said ‘no’ to something, see if there’s an alternative for your kid. If your child wanted to go with her friend’s family for a movie and you said no, provide an alternative activity that the child can do. For example, suggest something like, “how about baking that cake you showed me in the cook book the other day?”. An exciting alternative can make them focus less on the answer ‘no’.
Rewards are necessary
Just as disciplining is necessary, rewards are also equally important. There is a thin line of difference between a reward and bribe, which must be understood clearly. While bribe is given under pressure, reward is given willingly. Bribing the child with ice cream, just to keep his or her mouth shut in the supermarket will do more harm than good.
Rewarding is totally different. Rewards do not mean chocolate/ice cream or even video games that can spoil the child. Rewards are meant to motivate children. An example is, “Kids if you clean up your room quickly, we can watch your favorite movie in the evening.”
These are just general tips and may not work for everyone, as every child and parent is wired differently. Moreover, it will depend on the age of the child, as well as the circumstance. Use the ones that work consistently, and chuck the ones that don’t. Parenting is all about being creative and easing as much tension in the house as possible. At the end of the day, remember kids need a balanced environment of love and discipline to grow in! All the best!