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What Lies Behind Your Outward Calm!

Kids have a lot on their minds, from their exams, sports competitions, projects to even playing the new game on computer. Parents can be bleakly low on their list, of course not always. Not to mention that when the brain is rewiring at age five or six, and again at age twelve, they can feel overwhelmed by outside stimuli and tune you out. So kids have other things to think about. They also have different priorities, and they don't understand at all why it's so important to take their bath right this minute!

Of course, the parents who ask me how to get their child to listen aren't really talking about listening. They're talking about how to get their child to take in what they say--and take action! Certain tips can be followed in order to attain the same:

1.   Say it ‘With’ a Single Word

We have a tendency to ask the child repeatedly to do a certain task, example- ‘’Why don’t you ever pick up your plate and keep it in the kitchen? I have been repeating this everyday now!’’ If you actually repeat this everyday, child is very less likely to do the same and soon the instruction will be deleted from his mind. Instead, use just ONE word for the instruction, like, “plate”. At first the child might look slightly dazed or surprised, but soon your child will be following your instructions. Soon your one word statements will become nice and positive words for your child. Children always like to hear positive and nice words from parents and teachers, more we learn to provide the same, more they will listen to you.

2.   Give Your Child a Choice

When consistent punishments or threats are given to the child, he is again less likely to listen to you. As parents, mostly we try to persuade the child to cooperate with us and when he doesn’t, we land up shouting, which in turn leads more resistance in the child. Rather, try providing your child with options or choices. Rather than feeling sorry for not cooperating, a child tends to become even more stubborn. But when you make him part of the decision, he's far more likely to do what's acceptable to you. Example – “You can go and play for half hour or one hour, you can choose for yourself” or “You can choose which subject you will first study today”. Giving certain choices makes the child confident, independent and very much a part of the situation. This way he might listen to your instructions or statements carefully. 

3. Don't start talking until you have your child's attention.

You have to always connect BEFORE you start speaking. That means you should avoid orders from across the room and expect to get through. Instead, move in close to the child and then put your words across. If your child is at toddler stage, you may get down on your child's level and touch him lightly, observe what he's doing and connect with him by making a comment about it: "Wow, look at that drawing which are making!” Brain research has found that when we feel connected to another person, we're more open to their influence, so you're making it easy for him to listen to you. If he doesn't look up, make sure you have his attention by asking "Can I tell you something?" When he looks up, then start talking.

(Don't be surprised when your child begins using this technique to get your attention before he tells you something. And if you want him to keep listening, you'll need to listen back!)

4. Stay calm.

When we get upset, kids feel unsafe and go into fight or flight. In their effort to defend themselves or to fight back, they become LESS effective at listening, and lose sight of our message. If your priority is getting everyone in the car, don't waste time and energy lecturing them about why they didn't listen to you and get ready when you first asked. That will just make everyone more upset, including you. Take a deep breath, help your child find his shoe and help him on with his backpack. Once you're in the car, you can ask them to help you brainstorm ways to get out of the house on time.

5. Listen

If you stare at your screen while your child tells you about his day, you're role modeling how communication is handled in your family. If you really want your child to listen to you, stop what you're doing and listen. Start this when he's a preschooler and he'll still be willing to talk to you when he's a teenager.

6. State Your Expectations

Example – “After you have brushed your teeth and you are totally dressed up, you can watch  TV for some more time, while I wrap the laundry work!” You have to tell your child your plan ahead of time, So that they are also well prepared and knows the consequences. Otherwise, parents will land up shouting on the child or getting stressed up themselves for the situation.

7. Name Their Feelings

Once we are done with our part of anger, we simply go ahead and ask the child to stop crying. This may produce a lot more frustration and anger in the child and he might feel that no one understand me. Everyone wants to know they've been heard and understood.  Telling the child to stop crying sends the message that his feelings don't matter (in some cases). Kids often cry (or whine, yell, or stomp) because they can't communicate why they're upset or don't know how to deal with the emotion. "You need to give them the words to express it” You can say to your child by getting closer to him that “ You seem to be quite angry or frustrated or irritated” This way he will feel more connected to you and will not feel ignorant.

It is logical that as parents, it's going to take a bit of practice to start saying these expressions. But that's the entire point: to change the way we talk to our kids, so they not only understand what we're trying to say but actually want to listen.


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