Creative Child

Top 5 Behaviors That Cause Parents to Lose Their Cool: #3 Not Listening

(and How to Fix Them)
by Rebecca Eanes


Next, look at what and how much you're expecting of him. If you're asking him to stop in the middle of an amazing Lego construction to go take a bath, then it's understandable why he may not hop to it. His mind is literally very involved in his play, and it's hard to switch gears quickly for most children. Be reasonable and respectful, just as you would want others to be to you. Try saying, "I see you're building an awesome tower. I want you to bathe in 10 minutes." Then, give him another notice at 5 minutes. This gives your child time to transition and is just generally a respectful thing to do. Remember how you feel when your child demands another juice when you're engrossed in something else? Show him courtesy, and he'll learn to show it back to you.

Sometimes things can't wait. I get that. If something really needs done and done now, here are a couple of tips to increase cooperation.

1. Use a firm and respectful tone at a conversational distance. Barking commands from across the room, or across the house, is much less effective than walking over, getting their attention by engaging eye contact, and then speaking.

2. Use "I want" statements rather than "will you' statements. "Will you pick up your toys now" leaves an option for "no." It's a question, not a request. "I want you to pick up your toys now" says that this is not negotiable.

3. Ask once then take action. Few things are more annoying than asking a child to do something several times and not getting a response. So, don't ask them several times. State your request in a kind and respectful tone once, make it short and clear, and ensure you have eye contact or at least listening ears by asking her if she heard what you requested.

4. If she doesn't do what you told her to do, then take action. This means if you told her to put her clothes away, go over to her, make eye contact, and say, "It's time to put your clothes away." Guide her toward the laundry pile and ensure she gets it done before you leave her room. Yes, I know this takes a lot of effort, and I realize you want her to do it the first time without you having to monitor her, but which is more effective? If you ask once then act, she will very soon learn that you expect her to listen the first time. If it continues to be a problem, go back to the first thing , the relationship. If you keep asking to the point that you lose your cool and yell, then she begins to understand she doesn't really have to do anything until you start screaming. So, by putting a little more effort in at the beginning, you will save yourself a lot of frustrating moments in the future.

Listening and cooperation come through connection, consistency, and capability. Make sure you are securely connected through a strong relationship, be consistent in following through on your requests, and make sure your child is capable of completing your requests (she may need taught where to put laundry away or need help with the homework she's avoiding). Once the "3 C's" are met, your child is much more likely to listen to you.

Related Article: Loving Courageously When They Don't Listen

Here are the other posts in the "Top 5 Behaviors That Cause Parents to Lose Their Cool" Series: 

#1 Aggression

#2 Whining

#4 Tantrums

#5 Back Talk

Rebecca Eanes is the bestselling author of multiple books including Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, The Positive Parenting Workbook, and The Gift of a Happy Mother. She is the grateful mom of two boys. 


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