START DOING THESE FIVE THINGS AND YOU’LL HAVE AMAZING LISTENERS IN UNDER A MINUTE! DON’T BELIEVE ME? GO TRY!
As a behaviour consultant with almost fifteen years of experience working with families, I like to think I have seen it all. I hope I’ve seen it all! Because, it’s a tough gig teaching and supporting young growing brains. What I hear the most from my clients is “HELP!! My kids never listen to me!” so I’ve put together this quick guide that radically changes kiddos from remarkably good at ignoring to first time listeners in under a minute.
Are you ready for amazing little listeners that resemble the angels you know are in there somewhere?!?! Than let’s do this.
Tell your kids what to do.
I know… that sounds silly, but hang on!
If your child is jumping on the bed and you keep saying “stop jumping on the bed, stop jumping on the bed”. You’re creating an image in their mind of them jumping on the bed. Guess what happens! We do what we think.
So, what do you think they are more likely to do: listen to you or keep jumping on the bed?
They are more likely to continue with the image already in their brain. It’s a pattern that they’re creating in their mind or that you’re also now creating.
Instead, we want to create an image of what we want to see by using very specific language. “Feet on the floor” has a much better result then “Stop jumping on the bed”. Now, there is no question as to what they need to do in order to receive your praise and you’re creating a new image in their mind’s eye for them to follow.
Avoid “Do” questions when they ain’t listening!
“Do you want to take a bath?” This opens a child up to yelling “NO!” and running away. What a nightmare! And we all know how that turns out!
Instead replace “Do you” with “When you..”.
When you say “When you…” you are creating an image (yes, more imagery!) your child’s mind that they’re already listening. In this case they’re picturing themselves already in the bath. This begins to create a compliant state of mind without any threats, bribes or lectures. Pretty cool, right?!
Start saying “Yes” more!
Who here has noticed this pattern? “Whenever I have to tell him ‘No’ he screams and falls to the floor. I just don’t know what to do any more!”
Telling your child “No” is an immediate trigger in their brain. Their body recognises the trigger as a stressor and emotions come flooding in. This isn’t intentional. This is the brain doing what are brains are supposed to do. By repeating “No”, a child is much more likely to become more distant and more resistant.
Instead, use your child’s motivation in the moment to create immediate rapport with them. You can do this by saying “Yes” more, followed with a gentle contingency.
“Mummy, may I have dessert?”
“Yes, first dinner then you can have dessert.”
Start mixing it up a bit!
We’ve all seen what happens when we charge into a room and start placing difficult demands all willy nilly! “Okay, time to go! Clean up this mess!”
“Just one more minute!” and “Nooo, I don’t wannaaaaa.”
By combining simple demands with harder demands your child is much more likely to be successful. Starting simple (“High five!” and “Can you show me what you’re building?”) strengthens your child’s chances of listening the first time which means they receive immediate praise and will strive to continue to receive more praise.
Once your child has realised there is an opportunity here they are much more likely to work harder to continue receiving the praise which means you can start placing higher demands like “Okay, let’s pack away!”.
Placing connection before correction is more than just being kind. It’s evidence-based and gets results!
Give choices, even when there aren’t any!
Choices are empowering to the brain. When a child feels like they have a choice they’re less likely to resist, meaning that they’re more likely to use their executive functioning skills and focus on the decision. This is especially effective if it’s an enjoyable choice!
So, remember earlier when I said to avoid “Do you” questions by replacing them with “When you” questions? You can now toss in a choice. For example, “When you take a bath, would you like bubbles or toys?” Now your child is focused on the decision to be made and is far less likely to resist bathtime. Boom!
So those are five simple ways that you can create amazing listening in under a minute. With practice, parenting just got a lot easier.
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