If you’re like me, you’re the kind of parent that finds joy in those moments, however few and far between, that your child chooses to listen to you the first time! Maybe your child does listen the first time, all the time, and if that is the case then you don’t need to read this! 🙂 But I know that my children don’t listen the first time…sometimes not even the fifth time, and that is why I’m writing this!
What kinds of things do you do to make your kids listen? When I had my first child and she reached the age where she needed to listen I used to count, 1-2-3…then I read somewhere that if we count, we are essentially giving our kids permission to procrastinate as they wait for us to say ‘3’…so I tried to enforce listening without counting, which worked for my oldest daughter, and sometimes my oldest son…by the time my 3rd kid entered the scene, I realized that not all of them are the same and not all of them reason in the same capacity…so now I count again. Not to allow them to procrastinate, when I say ‘1’, and they’re not moving, I walk over to them (most of the time, unless feeding the baby, etc) to make sure they’re moving…if I have to get to 3 however, there are consequences! When they ask the same thing over and over and over and over again, I stop repeating “no” and take the time to explain why I’m saying no. I also try to make sure that they are aware that they are making an example to their siblings, so I expect them to be obedient-also, that when their sibling does the exact thing they are trying to do or get away with to them, they don’t like it either, and that is why I expect them to listen. Behaviour is learned, good or bad.
It’s so important for us, as parents, to emulate good behaviour! My husband often reminds me that my little mini me’s are watching, and if they see something that him or I do with each other, they will think it’s ok! So true!! Some days, it is SO stinking hard to maintain a level head and NOT react when our kids (plural!) are all acting out and being disobedient. Growing up, my mom always told me that “delayed obedience is disobedience”-something instilled in me from a very young age-and now that I am raising my own little tribe of humans, I am understanding how hard it is to teach that and have it become part of who they are! But X4!! I always tell my daughter that I don’t care so much about her cleaning up her mess, it’s whether she is willing to obey what I’ve asked of her. When I ask her what obedience means to her, she says, “listening, being willing to do what you ask me to do”. That tells me that she knows it, but here’s where it gets interesting! If she knows, why does she not always do it? I believe that listening, when reinforced with praises and a “great job” or “thank you for listening” spurs them on to want to do it the next time. I believe that all kids want to be good listeners, and make good choices-so what causes them to be disobedient? My son, who is almost 4, when excited or in the middle of doing things, seems to not hear me at all! Even when I say his full name very loudly! Then when I express to him that I’m disappointed that he didn’t listen, becomes sad that he disappointed me! So, what I have concluded is that there is a direct link between behaviour and encouragement! Another thing I’ve read is that when we yell, we are voiding out everything we are trying to say-so yelling at them just causes them to go internal and shut us out. Yelling is such a quick response for us parents to try to get our kids to hear us-but what are we really doing to their hearts? Is it building them up or tearing them down? I do honestly struggle with raising my voice when I’m not being heard, because most of them time it’s not just one kid ignoring me-just being real here! That being said, I want to have obedient kids who respect me, and who I grow to have a stronger relationship with over time.
If we lose our kids to disrespect, we lose the battle. Building our kids up and encouraging them is all part of their development, and development is all part of how they learn. If we can position ourselves to be a pillar of encouragement and learning, we are setting them up for success-to shoot for the moon and conquer the world! We are raising our kids to go on and do better things than we ever could, and to be better people!
Here are some ways we can instil good behaviour into our children by encouragement:
- Listen to them-if they feel that they aren’t being heard, they will do what they can to be heard and noticed, good or bad!
- Be supportive-if they are genuinely trying to listen but something is happening around them that they need some help, we can encourage them by acknowledging that they’re trying and then help them finish what has been asked of them.
- Have a healthy communication system-if we are aware and conscious of how we speak to them, as well as our spouses and other children, they notice and will act accordingly. They mirror what is made an example to them.
- Cautiously and purposely take specific opportunities to be firm and explain that it is really important that they are obedient, ensuring that they know you have expectations and boundaries, explaining to them the WHY behind it.
- Give positive feedback! Even if you don’t experience the situation personally, but you hear second hand that they were really good for someone else, make sure you take the time to reinforce encouragement and give them a “great job!” for it! That shows that you actually care about their behaviour outside of the home and reinforces a positive experience for them in regard to obedience. So often obedience is bogged down in their mind by remembering how frustrated we get with them and how they feel bad as a result-we can put a spin on that by making them feel good about it and want to keep doing it!
I am in the same boat as most of you-trying to better myself as a parent and better my parenting skills, to make sure I’m building up my kids instead of tearing them down. Remember, to be gentle with yourself, you are doing the best you can! I know that I have to remind myself of that all the time! You are enough!
~praying for peace in your hearts and patience on this one for you warrior mamas out there! 🙂