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How to Talk So Kids Will Listen

Updated: May 10

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen

Okay, so you're having a problem getting your kids to listen. This is normal; everyone goes through this. I have been through this; it just takes consistency, time, and teaching.

Okay, so your kids are not listening to you. Whatever is going on throughout the day, sometimes they are really listening; you just don't realize that they're listening. We have so much going on as parents, especially mothers because there's so much on our plate. And what happens is we get overwhelmed because of all of our responsibliites, and we're like, what are we supposed to do, like where do we start, how do we handle this?

Your child may have been doing everything excellent all day, but it's the one toy that was not picked up, and suddenly, you find yourself losing it. "Oh my goodness, how did you leave this toy here?" It weighs heavily on your shoulders because you've done so much already, and so you don't need that, right? So sometimes it's more us and not them. The overwhelming responsibilities we have make us lose sight of the actual situation. That's one way to look at it and really assess yourself first.

Another thing is if they're really not listening and you tell them every day what to do! For example, it's a hassle to get them to eat, to get them to clean up after themselves every day, you can't get them to organize their room every day, you can't get your kids to get in the shower on time, can't get ready for school on time, you know, you can't get them to do their homework every day, and every day you're telling them over and over and over again. That means you need to change your approach!

If they are not following many of the rules that you "said" to them, that means you need to "teach" and "model" the rules and change the tone. Your kids will listen to you when you respect them. And I know you're thinking, "Oh my child, of course, I'm not disrespecting him or her; they're disrespecting me," and that's the first thing that comes to your head, that is the ugly green monster we have inside of us as parents. Okay, we have that overwhelming monster we're gonna call Mr. Crazy (ha!ha!), or whatever you want to call it; that's the one that is triggered first. What you need to do is remember to stay calm. So whatever the situation, pull back for a second, look at it, assess it, and think, "Hey, I have this rule, and I have my child not following this rule. How can I get my child to follow this rule?" 

You know your child; you birth that child. I don't know exactly what he or she wants, likes, does, or expects from you every day; YOU know that. And now, if all of those expectations are met for your child, everything's fine for your child. But what about you? The expectations that you have are different from what his or her expectations are. Now your expectations, your standards, that's what you need to figure out and then share those with your child. 

If you're not communicating it well, then that's another problem. You need to make sure you're telling your child, Okay, we need to have this ______ done by this _______ time for _________ reason. For example, "we need to have your backpack packed for tomorrow morning now so you can be ready to leave on time for school." Another example could be, "We need to be up at 6:00 in the morning, so I need you in bed on time so you are rested, to be up at 6:00 AM without having to drag yourself out of bed or have someone come and remind you over and over again so that you can be ready and energetic for the day. You need to be able to get up, get your things together, get dressed, brush your teeth, have your breakfast, and put away your school supplies and anything else that needs to be taken with you to school in case you didn't take it and put it away the night before for whatever reason." 

I prefer my kids put their things together at night, so I have that as a part of their nighttime routine. Their clothes for the next day are placed out and ready to wear in the morning, along with shoes and bags packed to go. 

So, you want to break it down and explain the entire process to your child. We, as adults, know the process because we've been through it, and we got ourselves to this place by going through it. They are little people; they're kids. They don't know, even if they are preteens or teenagers, sometimes they don't know the significance of that rule. If they have not yet followed the rule, they haven't been taught how to follow it.

Remember, those old habits will be more challenging to break the older the child is. Setting rules begins when your child is two years old, before that for some children. Implementing these strategies for older children will take a lot of work. It will take more patience, consistency, and possibly incentives. 

Now, you're saying, "Oh, I've said it so many times; they are still not listening." You have to "teach" it. You are their first teacher. So, as parents, when we're going about our day, maybe we have to work, prepare meals, do laundry, clean—it's continuous. Not to mention, keeping up with relationships is a lot of responsibility. If a lot of the burden falls on your shoulders and if you don't have a spouse that's very helpful or jumping in all the time, or perhaps not there all the time due to work or whatever other arrangements you have, this can be very difficult for you. These responsibilities can become very overwhelming and a lot to take. 

You need to sit down, breathe, and go through all of the rules you have in your house. Write them down, write down the rules on a piece of paper—write it down—starting with expectations, and say, "Okay, this is what I expect from my children. Number one, number two, number three, number four, and so on." Make this list. From there, place every rule that you have underneath each expectation it applies to. (Too much to follow? Don't worry, there is a digital download below). From there, now I want you to go back and look at those and say, "How am I approaching this? Does my child understand how to follow this rule?"

Now, what I want you to do every day, starting with number 1, is to begin teaching each rule. Teach it thoroughly, verbally, and by modeling it precisely, verbalizing/showing what you expect. Verbalize it out loud to yourself first, then communicate it with your child. For this rule, this is what I expect to happen...., what's going to happen if you defer from the plan...., and what we will do about it if this expectation is not met. Now, do you have any questions? Let me know if you want to change the rule or the expectation. Is the expectation difficult for you, and why? How can we fix this together? I want to help you become the best little person possible. Let me know what else you need so we can get this task done.

Treat your child more like an adult! Respect them for the person they're trying to become. They have their own personalities; they will have their own way of doing things. Everything will not be your way. So when they say, "I don't wanna do that," ask, "Why don't you wanna do that? What is it about this that you don't want to do? What would you prefer us to do? Maybe you can think about another idea, another way of doing this, and maybe we can do that." And that will allow them to really calm down and not just jump up and say, "No," but instead think, "Oh, I have a say so. Oh, I can change this rule if I want." Yes, if it makes sense, you can still accomplish the goal. 

For example, maybe you don't want to get dressed in the morning; perhaps you want to get dressed at night before you go to bed; that way, you're ready to go in the morning. Maybe you're not a morning person, and many kids are not right now, but we're helping shape them and ourselves into morning people. 

Understand it is a process; it will take some time, but involve them in the rules. Make sure you're breaking down every single one of those rules. And if they still don't get it, you need to model it; you need to show it, literally show it to them. On the weekend, wake them up early. I know you're like, "Oh my gosh, I need to sleep on the weekend." I know, but you need to model it; you need to do this for your sanity, to be able to do everything you need to do and have that independence. 

After doing this for a couple of weeks, you will be surprised by how much of a difference it'll make. Just teach it to them. Some kids will understand verbally and listen to you; "Okay, now I get it; that's why I have to do this." Option two, they do not understand the rules verbally; then you need to model it, and that's okay. Some people need to see what happens. So, you know what?

Wake up at 6:00 in the morning and have your child sit down and say, "Hey, I want you to see how Mama gets ready in the morning. I want you to see what I have to do, and I want you to tell me what I did first and what is next." Think of it as switching roles. And just let them see what it is that you're doing. So you got out of bed, say "I have to brush my teeth. Oh, where's my things? Do I need to pick anything up?" Involve them, just let them sit back and watch you, but question them along the way, like, "Am I missing anything?" They will understand once they see you in action, especially if you need more preparation for the day. 

Children will have that aha moment where your child will say, "Oh, adults do the same thing we do." So, these rules that they have do not just apply to them; they apply to me, too. They will notice that even though mom doesn't verbally say everything she does every morning, she does what I must do. Say, "you may be getting up in the morning to get ready for school; I'm getting up in the morning to get ready for the day or get ready for work," or whatever it is. Say, "We all have responsibilities, and we all have to make sure we take care of our responsibilities well." 

Don't make excuses, and start doing this today, not tomorrow! Get through your list one day at a time. Remember, it takes time, consistency, and patience, but it is worth it!

Now, reach out if you have any other questions and need help figuring out what to do. If you are on the paid yearly membership plan,  the good news is you can request a post!   Fill out the form and ask your question.  A new blog post will be posted in the category labeled "The Glue." A post will be written to answer your question and for all audiences. It will be completely anonymous, as your details will not be linked to the post uploaded. If you are not on the paid membership plan, no worries; subscribe to the free membership plan and book a consultation.

I look forward to working with everyone! Bye for now!

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