Hi, Broken Record: Bet you’re hoarse, or maybe blue in the face, from telling your kiddo to do things over and over and over again. SHE DOESN’T LISTEN and it’s driving you crazy. You’ve yelled, you’ve begged, you’ve bargained, you’ve read books, but your sweetie still has incredibly selective hearing. Stop pulling your hair out and follow – be consistent! – these easy-to-implement solutions that will get your child to listen to you. Prepare to regain your voice and sanity!
•Get your child’s full attention: Before you ask anything of Timmy, make sure he’s in the same room, looking at you and not doing something else. He’s more likely to have selective hearing when he’s playing with his favourite toy. Get down to his level by sitting in a chair or kneeling on the floor, lock eyes and then start speaking.
•State your request simply: Trina will only half-listen to your long-winded rambles. To ensure your message isn’t lost, use the fewest words to tell her exactly what you want or need. Then have Trina recall what you said to confirm that she heard you loud and clear.
•Don’t repeat yourself: When the goal is to get your child to listen to you the first time, it’s important to only issue instructions once. Resist the urge to repeat your request, as doing so will teach Timmy that it’s cool to ignore you until he feels like paying attention. If he doesn’t listen when you say “come here” or “stop,” then go over to him and show him how to follow your instructions.
•Stay calm: It’s frustrating when Trina tunes you out. But try not to let your annoyance come through when you’re trying to get your child to listen. Shouting and tense body language – things that convey negative feelings – make her uneasy and less likely to hear your message. Keep your tone, words and physical stance as neutral as possible.
Reinforce for good listening: Whenever Timmy listens the first time, make a big happy deal of it. Give him a lot of verbal praise, high-5s and hugs to let him know that he was a stellar listener. Positive reinforcement is the best way to shape consistently good behaviour.
•Take an if-then approach: Does Trina ignore you when you ask her to do something she doesn’t like? Pair that activity with something rewarding afterwards. For example, first she washes the dishes, then she gets to play video games for 20 minutes. But if she doesn’t soap up the spoons and plates, then no games for Trina. The key here is follow-through: Issue the reward immediately when it’s earned and withhold it if the contingent conditions aren’t met. Your child will quickly learn that it’s worth her while to listen and comply with your asks.
•Model good listening: Show Timmy what good listening looks like by being attentive when he talks. Have eye contact, keep your body still and nod or ask questions at appropriate times. Do this consistently and he’ll start copying your actions soon enough.
•Explain why: Using simple language, tell Trina why she needs to do what you ask of her (for example, to keep your teeth healthy, you have to brush them morning and night), so she understands the importance and realizes you’re not just a nag. She may be more motivated to listen to and follow your directions when she sees they’re of value to her.
Consistently implement these steps and your child should be a better listener before your know it. But if you need a little more guidance to get your child to listen to you, be in touch; we’re here to help!
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