Patti Cancellier: Hi! I'm Patti Cancellier, the Education Coordinator and a Parent Educator at the Parent Encouragement Program. I'm talking about why children don't listen and now I'll discuss why it's necessary to repeatedly ask your child to do something. The main reason we have to repeat or request or demand multiple times before our child actually responds, is that we may have actually trained our child to be parent deaf.
Now parent deaf is a term coined by Dr. Rudolf Dreikurs author of the book Children: The Challenge. A book that's still being used in parenting classes in democratic countries around the world, despite the fact that it was published in 1964. We don't knowingly train our children to be deaf to us, it happens as a result of spending too much time trying to reason with them when they don't do what we want. In other words, we talk too much. After doing this repeatedly, we're less effective with our children. Our words hold less meaning for them. And our children learn at a very young age exactly how long they can wait to respond to us before they have to act, because they know exactly how we're going to behave.
Children spend a lot of time observing their parents, trying to figure out how things work, how to be important in the family, how to be significant in every social situation. This isn't really conscious on their part, it just happens because human beings are social creatures. We depend on other human beings for survival at different points in our life and therefore our children are always looking for ways to feel like they really belong or matter in the family. As a result, they are always trying behaviors out with us and they are watching us to see how we respond to them.
Children are incredible observers. Your children know you better than you know yourself. As Dr. James Bitter of East Tennessee State University puts it, your children have the equivalent of a master's degree in you, they know you that well. So therefore, your children know how long they can wait before they have to respond to a request or a command from you. So for example, one child may know that she doesn't have to respond until her mother's voice rises one full octave. Another child knows he has to respond when his father starts to march across the room toward him, which is usually after the sixth request. Your children know what your limit is. The reason we have to ask kids six times to do something before they do it is that we've trained them to be parent deaf, that what we say doesn't matter until we get really angry. We'll talk in the upcoming clips about how to make your words mean something, and how to follow through without having to repeat yourself.