Do you hear yourself saying “ I just want my children to listen!” ? Do your children listen?

So often as parents we parent from our perspective and get frustrated when our children don’t listen. Have you ever stopped to think, I wonder how my child is seeing this? I wonder what they think about this. 

Sometimes just stopping and a while later after a difficult moment asking your child what they thought, can really help. Even when they are young, especially when they are young. Our intent for the questioning is to understand how they see the situation and develop their perception of how they see it.  When we learn to talk in their understanding our influence is way more effective. 

How do we get our needs met?

We as parents tend to be so results driven in the moment. We assume that because we do routine things every day our children should just know (that is our perspective). What if we took a step back and approached it from a different perspective? One of what are we teaching them rather than getting them to do things. 

For young children, these tasks can be broken down into smaller pieces during the learning process. For example, getting dressed by themselves. It can start with them putting out what they are going to wear, then asking them which clothing they will start with putting on themselves, and we do the rest. When we approach from a learning perspective, we empower them and there is less chance of power struggle than when we are always telling them what to do.

Our children are little people with SO much to learn. If you think about it when they started to walk, did we just expect them to get up and walk? Not usually, we would notice them pulling themselves up, then walking around holding on, then a few steps and falling and then they started walking. Did you get impatient with them?

With other situations we usually get impatient because of our need to get things done. How can we approach these other learnings the way we did with their walking, before they walked, we worked and planned around that? This way our expectations are different and so we get less frustrated and impatient (it is when our expectations are not met that causes our frustration) 

The question is always: How can I get what I need while they are learning? Do I need to plan more time? Do I need to plan more support? Do I need to plan for other time off so that I am not tired or overwhelmed? Do I need to do anything to destress my other work so that I can feel calm in the process?

3 Questions to ensure we get what we need:

What do we need?

Usually when we just want them to listen, it is because we need something else. Maybe we are tired, maybe we need to be somewhere? It is important to understand our need and plan to ensure that we get what we need so that we can separate our need from how we interact with our children. What plan can you put in place, so you get what you need regardless of whether they listen or not. For example:  In the mornings if we need them to hurry up so that we can get to work. Can you get them up a bit earlier? Can you get up earlier? Can they pack their bags and do all their preparation the night before? What routine can you put in place to make mornings easier?

What do we want our children to learn?

When our children aren’t listening and we aren’t getting what we want, we start to nag or that is when the words we use are an expression of our frustration and not actually what we want them to learn. This is when we need to go back to the first question and plan, so that we are in a good state of feeling before we interact with them. Once we are centred, we can focus on what we want them to learn.  In the example above for the mornings, we might want to teach them self-management and organisation to be ready when they need to be. How can you break this up into smaller parts to teach them?

How do we teach them?

Use short clear sentences on what they need to learn. Ask them how they think they could get it done. Let them try their way and they assess whether it works or not. Let them come up with a solution. Teaching them to problem solve at a young age sets up their pattern of thinking and develops internal motivation rather than listening to instructions. In the morning example the lesson could be:  We leave for school at 6:30am. And questions: What do you need to do to be ready for that? You can offer ideas if they are not sure, let them choose and try different options. Do we believe they are capable of problem solving? Our belief in them has a huge influence on their belief in themselves. 

If you would like support on how to do this effectively contact me at [email protected] and I can tell you about my coaching and interactive workshops

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