“My kids won’t listen to me, how do I get them to listen?”
This is such a common question that parents ask. You get so frustrated when you have to repeat yourself over and over again because your kids aren’t listening. It can get overwhelming and defeating when your kids don’t listen to you when you speak.
Daily exercise helps with kid’s ability to focus. Kids are made to be active. They learn better when they are active, they feel better, and they are just plain happier when they are given the chance to be active each day. Burning off their extra energy also creates a calming feeling for them.
A daily walk or jog, playing outside with a ball, playing tag, doing your exercise routine with you are all great ways to make sure that your little one gets in some physical activity each day. For us, we love to take family walks around the neighborhood and when we have time, we stop off at the park and let the girls play for a little bit. They are always calmer and more relaxed when we get back home.
Routines. We’ve all heard the term before. When you are pregnant, you get told all the time to get the baby into a routine or on a schedule as soon as you can – that it will make your life so much easier. Daily routines are key for kids. Kids thrive on knowing what to expect on any given day. When there is a disruption to their “normal” day, it totally throws them off.
Routines also tell kids what is expected of them.
Create routines for the mornings/evenings – things that stay the same day-to-day.
Checklists/ Smaller Steps
- Checklists are great to show kids what they should be doing during a given time. A morning checklist might look like:
- Go potty
- Brush teeth
- Get dressed
- Eat breakfast
Checklists are also good for explaining how to do certain tasks, like cleaning their room. Sometimes you may think that your child isn’t listening when you say clean your room, but the reality may be that it is too overwhelming, and they don’t know where to start, so they just don’t do it or they throw a fit. Instead, break it down into smaller steps for them. I.E. make your bed, pick up the toys off the floor, etc.
Kids who eat too much sugary foods, especially processed sugars tend to have a big high and then crash, which does not help listening or focus! Now, I feel like it is so incredibly unrealistic to say that kids can’t have desserts or snacks that contain processed sugar. However, a good, healthy balance really helps avoid this high and then crash that you get from sugar. A good rule of thumb, that I follow myself, is 2:1 ratio (2 healthy snacks for every non-healthy snack/dessert).
This is good for school work. Set a goal for him to work towards. I.E. If you finish this assignment in ____ minutes, then you get ___(reward)____.
This also works with chores, too. I.E. If you finish all your chores this week, then you get ___(reward)____.
Some kids just need that outlet of energy. Fidget spinners can actually be good for this and helps them focus on what they are working on. Just be careful that they are using it to help them be productive and focus on the task at hand and not playing with it as a toy.
Just like us, kids need to take breaks from what they are working on. A good way to put this in practice is to have your child work for 15-20 minutes and then take a 5-minute break. This will allow him to get up and move around because kids have a much shorter attention span than us as adults.
Try to make sure that he is working on his school work in a room with no TV and as little distractions as possible. I wouldn’t recommend his room either since there are toys in there. Distractions really make it hard for kids to focus on what they are doing.
Ways To Talk To Them To Reinforce That They Needs To Listen To You
The way that we speak to our kids tells them more than our words do. The tone of your voice, the volume you use and your body language, including facial expressions, tell your child far more about your mood and what your actual meaning behind your words are. There have been so many times when my oldest has asked me if I am mad at her simply because my tone of voice is flat because I am tired. I have to explain to her that I am just tired from a long day and not mad at her.
This also comes into play when you are asking your kids to do something for you. Don’t make what you are asking sound optional. Yes, you are asking them to clean their room or take out the trash, but your tone of voice shouldn’t make it sound as if they have an option. Be firm, but not mean.
Be direct with what you are looking for from them. Kids don’t always understand subtleties like adults. Don’t say “Pick up your shoes, please?”, but instead say “Pick up your shoes now please.” Be as direct as possible, it lets them know what you are expecting of them.
Say exactly what you want them to do. For example, instead of saying, “Stop bouncing in your seat.”, instead say “Please keep your bottom in your chair and your feet on the floor.” This tells them exactly what you are expecting them to do. By choosing a phrase like “stop bouncing in your seat”, you are leaving an endless amount of options open for them. They might stop bouncing in their seat, but they might also start tapping on the table or rocking their chair back. In their minds, they will have listened to you and done what you asked of them. They aren’t bouncing in their seat anymore, but what you were really looking for them to do was to sit still. By not being specific with your words, your child did not understand that you wanted them to sit still. Phrasing it, “please keep your bottom in your chair and your feet on the floor” you are giving them explicit instructions that are easy for them to understand.
Remember to look them in the eyes when you are speaking to them. When you show your child respect it also teaches them to be respectful and look you in the eyes when they speak to you.
Don’t give a whole speech when you are giving them directions. Be short and sweet to get your point across. This goes back to kids not being able to focus – we give them too much information when we could be more direct about the instructions. If you spend 4-5 minutes explaining what you want them to do, by the time you are finished, they have forgotten the first thing that you said.
Be firm. Don’t waiver, back down or take no for an answer. No negotiations. Make sure you follow through with any task that you give them or any rules that you set. This boundary that you set will be tested. And It will be tested constantly. You must not give in. I know that you will want to – heck, I have given in before! It’s a struggle, but I promise you that it pays off in the end, mama! Consistency is key!