What's your go-to parenting strategy to get the kids to listen? (Bet yet, do what they're told.)
I AM A YELLER — When I get frustrated, I resort to getting action around the house by yelling.
The Makeover: When your blood pressure shoots up, bring the volume down. If you feel yourself losing your tempter, take five. If you’re not in the same room, move closer to your child. State your demands in a firm, business-type tone. Psychologist Myrna Shure in her book Raising a Thinking Child, says yelling ignites anger and “children can become immune to being yelled at and start to tune it out.”
I USE LABELS WHEN I’M ANGRY — When you constantly voice disappointment and frustration in your child, it hurts. When you call your son “the laziest kid on the planet,” you set him up for negative behavior. He thinks, “Why should I try harder, she won’t be satisfied.”
The Makeover: Stop labeling and sizing up your child. It’s unfair to compare a child to his siblings or friends. It leads to feelings of inadequacy and fails to motivate your child to do better. Instead, focus on the good behavior. Praise him for what’s been done properly, instruct him on how to improve bad behavior.
I THREATEN TO PUNISH BUT OFTEN DON’T — Making wild promises or threats of punishment are harmful when you don’t follow through. If you make idle threats, your kids will soon figure out your bark is worse than your bite and won’t alter their behavior.
The Makeover: Make your expectations clear ahead of time, then follow through if not met. Let your kids know how you want them to behave before you go out. For example, if you’re going to the playground, tell them: “If you throw dirt, you will get a time-out. If it happens twice, we will go home.” If they break your rules and you must dole out punishment, make sure it’s a reasonable consequence and then carry through.
I BRIBE MY KIDS FOR GOOD BEHAVIOR — Motivating your kids to behave with food, toys, or money might seem effective in the moment. But you can become a slave to your child this way. Whenever you say, “If you quit your tantrum, I’ll buy you a toy,” you are entering a danger zone. You are buying your child’s compliance to your rules. Bribing is different from rewarding your children for good behavior.
The Makeover: Say goodbye to bribery. Let your child earn a treat by displaying good behavior. If they act up, the treat is no longer on the table. Remember that promising to give stickers or candy in an effort to make your child act properly is not a pattern you want to create.
I LECTURE WHEN I SHOULD LISTEN — Stringing together long explanations and appealing to a 5-year-old’s sense of reason will NOT make him do what you ask. “Brushing your teeth is so very important, honey. When we don’t take care of our teeth, the tooth bugs attack them and we have to go to see the dentist, who has a drill that’s quite loud, and...”
The Makeover: Recognize the value of listening. Don’t turn daily requests into lengthy monologues where kids are given the opportunity to negotiate. If your kids blow you off, it may be, in part, due to your inability to listen. If you do all the talking and then shut down when they talk, you are modeling poor listening skills and you’ll likely raise a poor listener too. You want your kids to form good habits so they will obey without excessive communication.
In his book, A Little Book of Listening Skills (2005) neuroscientist Mark Brady writes, “In a world full of talkers, a skillful listener shines like the Hope Diamond.”
Listening is a simple, powerful way to show our children love.
Counselor David Augsberger says, “Being listened to is so close to being loved, that most people don’t know the difference.” So true. Let these ideas for breaking bad habits lead you toward more effective discipline and peaceful times with your children.
Michele Ranard is married with two children, and holds a master’s degree in counseling. Read more at cheekychimama.blogspot.com