Wednesday, April 27, 2011

How to talk so kids will listen . . . part 2

How to Engage a Child's Cooperation

This will be fast, because these techniques are pretty self-explanatory.

When faced with a child who doesn't feel like listening to your instructions or remembering to follow the rules, the following are ways to engage cooperation.

1. Describe what you see (or the problem)

2. Give information without accusing (Don't start the sentence with "You're doing" or "You did")

3. Say it with a one-word reminder

4. Describe what you feel (I don't like tripping over shoes!)

5. Write a note. You can make it humorous

I really got the feeling as I read this book that I talk too much. My kids simply hear too many words coming out of my mouth. How can they know which ones to listen to, if I'm blathering all the time.

I recently started giving the boys 10 seconds to comply before I would repeat an instruction. Amazingly, I am reminding less by being more patient. And they don't have to listen to me harp on them.

The other tip here is to not make it personal. No attacks! There's no room for accusations and derogatory tones in a home where we want to encourage the Holy Spirit to dwell.

So tell me your best tips for getting a kid to listen and do what you say.


  1. eye contact and then asking, "do you understand?"
    I learned from watch my husband to keep things short. He is the KING of the overly long lecture!
    I have really benefited from the "describe what you feel" part. I am terribly at making my kids feel bad for not doing something or forgetting something. It has helped so much to say, "you guys I really don't like being late. It makes me feel like a rude person." versus, "Come ON! How can it take ten minutes to get your shoes on!?" :)

  2. When I think of it, or if it fits, I can help him redo an action the right way instead of "punishing him" or giving him an ultimatum which will lead to his bad choice... oh the joy of 2 I guess.

    Like running away from me. I catch him, then we practiced saying "Mommy (he repeats)- I want to see the telephone pole workers (he repeats)- Can you take me? (He repeats) "I'm good at waiting" (He repeats).

    Note: I sure can't make him wait for everything, so sometimes I'll run with him with excitement for somethings, but man- heading for the street or past buildings outta sight is no good.

    When we practiced, he held my hand after too (which is so hard for bottled up 2yr old excitement these days!)

    I felt better about "teaching the right behavior" instead of punishing him today- or issuing some consequence.

  3. by the way- don't want to rock the boat too much here- not sure who all reads this- but is there going to be a segment on how to talk so that husbands listen? I'm stugglin'!

  4. I threaten them with a swirly if they do not respond the first time...Just kidding! Still struggling in this area, but my most successful moments are when I have their full attention "Eyes on my eyes, please." I also had to find a button that they care kids, it is wearing pants. That is there punishment for rough times when I need it. I can take all their toys away, put them in time out, put them to bed after dinner and nothing matters as much as me simply saying, "do you need to go put a pair of pants on?" Not letting them wear flip-flops is their other button. These are the only 2 things that I can get them jump and run for....sad, but good for those times when I really need them to listen. I've been trying to count to 10 in my head before I remind them a second time and it has worked well. They usually respond by 8 in my head!

    Jess ~ not that I am an expert AT ALL, but I've been having the same issue. I'm going to blame it on the fact that he is spread so thin between work, driving 10 -12 hours a week and school. I couldn't get a good/helpful conversation out of him when I needed it. His mind was always somewhere else, especially in the evenings. He had this desire to start waking up early to read and relax and such before the kids awoke. I mean it was early (5 am - an hour earlier than we normally woke up) and he said he was already waking up at that time and forcing himself to go back to sleep. So, I did it with him. I read, did my blogging, emails, internet searching for whatever was needed and he read. It really seemed to slow down the day and he really seemed to listen better. Maybe it was just the fact that we were able to spend some quality time together, I don't know, But it was great. I wasn't even tired from waking up that early.

    But, yes! I am llooking for more tips, too. So, I would love a segment on husband listening, too!

  5. Em, you 2 should have a list on the side of books you are currently reading, so we can follow along if we want.

  6. Ha ha! Boy, there could be an entire blog devoted to husbands listening and we'd all still feel lost :)
    How do we add the books we're reading??? I'll have to play with that.

  7. You can do it as a list or even a link list.

  8. oh this is my new favorite place -- with you guys and your comments. Now that I got even sicker with bronchitis that he HAS to notice, things are better- I call it the "emergency solution" Mom gets no reprieve until she has to get reprieve for dad's fear of no more cooked meals and never a moment without child, while at home, again. So far, much better. We do Sunday council too- but some Sundays are crustier than others I supposed. :) And right on with the stressed but don't know it point. OOOHHHH yeah. And what do you DO during those times, when you really want them to just notice it, own up to it and figure out a way for everyone to cope with it? I feel that more often than not, the head down until the month-long storm is over would be preferred, but then again, I want to WANT to run to my husband when he calls my name. Not sigh with "oh, okay!" Just sayin'.

  9. Jess-- I wish I had an answer, but I don't. Maybe an "I'm feeling stressed. Are you feeling stressed? Let's do something to ditch the stress for an hour together" approach might help?

    As always, I find praying for my husband helpful in remembering to be loving (and forgiving).

    A friend of mine who's a more experienced mother recommended finding one thing to delegate completely to my husband around the house.