Understanding Why Children Don’t Listen

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 22,569
    Childcare Expert Patti Cancellier discusses why children don’t listen.

    Patti Cancellier: Hi! I am Patti Cancellier, the Education Coordinator and a Parent Educator for the Parent Encouragement Program. I am talking about why children don't listen. And now I'll discuss what changes have occurred between the time you were a child and now. Parents report that their parents never had to say something more than once before they jumped to do it. They even try to voice their requests in the same way their parents used with their own children but found that it doesn't work. Why is that? The main reason is that parents today are parenting in a different society than the ones they grew up in and the ones their parents grew up in. This country has changed dramatically in the past 40 years and the style of parenting has changed as well. From feudal times to the 1960's and 70's parents parented one way, the authoritarian or autocratic way. It reflected the way societies were at that time. Authority figures gave their orders and people followed them. In the family, children did what they were told or they were punished. There was very little freedom and many, many limits. Kids were more likely to do what they were told because that's what they saw everyone doing. They didn't have a choice or didn't think they did. And they received the same message from every part of life, their parents, their school, their religious institution, and the government, to do what they were told to do by the authority figures in their life.

    This made parenting a lot easier, but it didn't make life easier for the individuals who had no rights in our country. The US was a democracy on paper but not a democracy in reality. Things started to change after World War II in this country and particularly in the mid to late 1960's, when people began to fight for more rights. At the same time, there was concern that the harsh authoritarian parenting style produced the likes of Hitler and his followers who obeyed him blindly. A new parenting style emerged and is still in use today, it's very child-centered and designed to raise happy children. It's called permissive parenting, it allows much freedom with very few limits. The problem with this style is that it's impossible to make a child happy and set and uphold limits on undesirable behavior. So parents voice their initial request in a nice tone of voice and they may bend or break the rules when the child convinces them to do so. But eventually, parents get resentful and angry because the children do nothing and the parents do everything. Parents try to reason and convince their children of the importance of doing a particular task. They may even beg on occasion out of desperation. Children do not end up happier as a result of this parenting method. They become more anxious because of the lack of limits and routine and the unpredictability of life. Therefore, the reason that you did what your parents asked of you the first time they asked is that you were raised in a different time and in a different society. We can't pluck a technique from one parenting style that existed in a different time and expect it to work now. So next, we'll talk about what we can put in place of the authoritarian and permissive parenting styles.