My kids are old enough to pick up their own toys and picking up toys is definitely not my favorite way to spend the afternoon. However, when I tell them to do it, they don’t seem to hear me. It’s as thought they’ve become temporarily deaf.
There are going to be times when you might not be as flexible. You are elbow deep in dirty dishes, making dinner or helping one of your children reassemble the block tower the cat just knocked over. Your other child wants to get revenge on the cat and he’s chasing it around the house. You’ve already yelled “Leave the cat alone!” twice, but that hasn’t had any effect. That’s when I recommend the next strategy. This strategy requires that you and the child be in the same room or at least within earshot of a loud whisper. Whispering seems to have a stronger effect than yelling. You are saying the same thing, but you are speaking in a loud whisper. It’s best if you have eye contact when you do this. I’ve noticed this throw the kids off. They tend to stop in their tracks as though they aren’t sure what you’ve said, but you whispered it so it must be important. Sometimes just whispering your child’s name is enough to get him to look at you. Then, you can restate your instructions, “I asked you to stop chasing the cat.”
Finally, let’s talk about picking up the toys. It’s not an urgent instruction, but it needs to be done. Asking the children to pick up the toys has not had any effect on them. If your children don’t want to hear you, then what you are saying needs to be altered. It’s time for suspension of privileges or removal of the problem. You might say, “If you can’t pick up your toys, then we’ll need to get rid of them.” This will usually get most kids moving. If they are defiant then you’ll need to follow through. Box up the toys and put them in storage. If it’s a matter of something you can’t get rid of, then take away a privilege. My daughter loves to watch movies and she gets to watch one at night before bedtime. If she doesn’t listen to me, she loses her movie. It’s a choice she gets to make. “There will be no movie tonight if you touch the cat again” usually registers if she doesn’t hear me the first time.
Finally, if you truly feel that your child isn’t hearing you, contact your pediatrician and schedule a hearing test. If your child is sitting in front of a television or computer screen and not hearing you, it may be time to cut back on the electronic entertainment. Of course, the most important thing you can do to get your children to listen to you is to be a good listener yourself. If you listen to your children they’ll be much more likely to listen to you too!
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The Mighty Mommy’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Practical Parenting is part of the Quick and Dirty Tips network at quickanddirtytips.com. This week Grammar Girl is responding to listeners’ questions so be sure to check out her podcast!
This is your friend the Mighty Mommy wishing you happy and fun parenting!
Music – “Golly Gee” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons "Attribution 2.0" http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/"