Patti Cancellier: Hi, I'm Patti Cancellier, the Education Coordinator and Parent Educator for the Parent Encouragement Program. I'm talking about why children don't listen and now, I'll discuss why it's important to resist repeating your request and always follow through. We've learned that it's very easy to train children to become parent deaf, by repeating our request or commands over and over. The trick to short circuiting that and to make our words really matter, is to resist repeating ourselves. Be clear on what you want, state it once, and be ready to act.
And by acting, I mean that you show with your body language what is expected of the child. When we engage in arguing or reasoning with our kids, we end up giving them the words to use to fight us with or to negotiate with us. Now, keep it in mind that your children know you so well, that they know your values, they know what's important to you, and while arguing with you they'll bring the things in that are important to you to bolster their case.
Here is an example, it's your child's job to empty the trash whenever it's full. When you see the can is filled and overflowing you remind the child to take it out. Now the child starts to argue with you because he doesn't want to take the garbage out, and he'll bring the things into the argument that will resonate with you.
If education is important to you, he may work that into the argument, and this isn't unnecessarily conscious, it just happens because the child knows you and your values so well, and this sort of argument has worked in the past. Remember kids only do things that work for them. But dad, I've got so much homework to do or mom, I'm working on that big science project, I just don't have time. So for a moment, you actually consider doing the job for him because school work is so important. But that's the permissive parent talking. Resist giving in, see you child as strong and capable, and see the importance of learning the practical skills that go into running a home. He is able to take the trash out and complete his assignment. So you're imparting words to him might be, as soon as the trash is emptied, I'll be happy to start dinner. Let me know when it's done.
Here's another example, from every home with a school-age child. Every child has a bagpack, and every home has a place for that bagpack. However, the typical child gets home from school or daycare, walks into the house or apartment and drops the backpack in the middle of the floor before collapsing in the carriage. Now bag packs can weigh up to 50 pounds now a days, and therefore they present a real safety hazard when they've dropped in the middle of a room or an entry way.
Your child know, she isn't supposed to leave the bagpack there. You don't have to say the same thing you've said for years, please put your backpack away in your room before you watch TV. Instead you go over to her, you get her attention, you point to the backpack on the floor and you say with a smile on your face, backpack. You stay next to her smiling and pointing, but not saying another thing. She may try to argue, don't say anything else just smile and point.
Eventually, the child will pick up the bagpack, although that action might be preceded by something like mom you're really giving me the creeps. So to make your words really matter, state your request once and be ready to act. Refuse to argue and negotiate, remain firm and friendly, showing your confidence in the child to do what needs to be done.
So next, I'll discuss how to be consistent with your child.