Ever wonder how in the world parents get kids to listen . . . at all, let alone the first time? These three simple tips will help you repeat yourself less.
Here’s the secret . . .
It’s not really about them!
Getting kids to listen is more about you – about me – than it is about them.
Maybe that’s not what you wanted to hear, but it’s true.
And really, we all know they can hear perfectly well when they want to, right?
Ever sat in the front seat of a 12 passenger van and asked your husband a question under your breath only to have the child in the far back seat pipe up with the answer?
Clearly, not a hearing problem!
The real question then, is:
What can we as parents do to help them pay attention?
To want to listen.
Now, I don’t consider myself a parenting expert by any stretch of the imagination – more like a parent in training. And nothing is 100% foolproof. But experience has shown me that when I remember to practice these three things, first time listening definitely goes up.
3 Simple Tricks That Get Kids To Listen the First Time
1) GET CALM
No one wants to listen to a raving lunatic! Not fond of the unflattering description? Me either, but that’s probably what I sound like to my kids sometimes. Kids tune out ranting. So do what’s necessary to settle yourself before you start to speak.
The ever popular “count to 10” doesn’t work for me . . . I just grit my teeth harder and build up more steam with each number. What does help is a couple slow, deep breaths. In through the nose, out through the mouth – nice and steady. And smiling. Or saying, “I love you.” What? Sure, I do not feel like doing those things. But they are small, practical “fake it ’til you make it” strategies that remind me to treat the child I’m addressing with kindness and respect.
2) GET CLOSE
If my kids don’t see me, my words are probably just a figment of their imagination! Effective communication takes place face to face. Don’t talk to closed doors or shout instructions up the stair and around corners. If you haven’t tried this yet, don’t bother. Take it from me – it’s not worth wasting your breath.
You don’t always have to go to where they are – though I do recommend making that effort sometimes. Teach your kids to listen for their name. When they hear it, that’s their signal to stop what they’re doing, make an affirmative verbal acknowledgement and come find you. Once they’re in the same room with you . . . wait for them to actually look at you . . . then hand out instructions, share your wisdom or just remind them you love them.
3) GET QUIET
Have you seen the meme about not yelling ’cause whispering is scarier? Its kind of funny, but I’ve decided I don’t like it. One, I’m not trying to “freak my kids out” as they say – I just want them to hear what I’m saying. And two, anytime I whisper they just look at me weird and say, “What, what’d you say mom? Why are you whispering?”
Getting quiet is as much about tone as volume. Tone is the attitude behind our words. It comes across in facial expression and pitch as well as volume. Proverbs 16:24 reminds us that pleasant words are sweet to the soul. My kids are much more inclined to hear me out when my tone conveys a gentle attitude. Setting my volume a notch below normal also helps keep my voice inviting.
The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, but the mouth of fools spouts folly.
Don’t fall into the trap of “spouting folly” when trying to get kids to listen. Try these three tricks and see what kind of difference they make.
But remember, I can’t make any promises about what your kids will choose to do once they’ve heard you. You may still have issues of obedience or respect to address. These tips are about you doing your part to “make knowledge acceptable.”
If you want kids to hear you, make listening to you as pleasant as possible.
Any other tips you’d offer that get kids to listen?