Getting Your Children to Listen to You

Get to the Point

Pretend that you're being timed on a conversation egg timer. If you don't say what you need to say within a short time, you've lost the attention of most children. On the other hand, when you're too brief, they'll ask for more information, if they need it.

Your kids understand you a lot better when you're specific and when you get right to the point, so:

  • Don't ramble on and on.
  • Don't go into long explanations.
  • Say exactly what you mean.

Children don't have to listen to you. They can choose not to listen the same way that you choose not to listen to certain people. You can't force, bribe, beg, or plead enough to get them to listen. They don't care. Even if you're in the middle of a sentence, they'll walk away when they get bored or are just tired of listening. Good communication between you and your children is the foundation for a long, happy, and growing relationship. If your children aren't listening to you, you've lost that foundation to build upon.

Don't yell

Yelling is the worst way to communicate.

Here's a guarantee: When you yell at your kids, they're not listening to a thing that you're saying. All they're doing is sitting there teary-eyed and upset because you're yelling or they're getting angry themselves. Your point is lost, they're upset, and you're upset. Nothing has been accomplished.

When you yell, your message doesn't get across. So whenever you reach the point where you're about to yell at someone, stop and leave the room. Just for a second, mind you. Take a few deep breaths, get your composure back, and approach the situation again.

Your job is to communicate your ideas to your children in a calm manner. Yelling shows your kids that you've lost control of yourself.

You're trying to be a role model and teacher. Yelling isn't a trait that you want to pass on to your kids. In fact, it comes back to haunt you as your kids grow older and their hormones get all stirred up. After all, when you yell, you're only teaching them to yell.

Excerpted from Parenting For Dummies, 2nd Edition™, published by Wiley Publishing, Inc.

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