How To Get Kids To LISTEN Without Loosing Your Cool

Almost all of us parents find this as a habitual situation where the child is either not listening or listening but not doing, or we are yelling and yet they seem to tune us out and obviously we lose our cool.

However the parent needs to understand  that its important to change the way we talk to our kids, so they not only understand what we’re trying to say but actually want to listen.

I am also a mother of two and many a times flip the lid of my brain and yell out totally frustrated, that’s when I started to look more into how I could sort out this problem, the best part about my upbringing was that I was thought from the start to treat books as my best friends and the relationship is strong even today. These are the points which I have learnt and hope they would be of use to you someway or the other.

How to get the kids to listen without loosing your cool

1) You are the Role Model : I have read this many a times that the kids immigrate the parent. The way you walk, talk, laugh, everything is getting stored in the little minds. So if you yell, chances are they will imitate your behavior and you end up being unhappy and frustrated for both of you

Action  : Protect your child at all costs.

Whenever you loose your cool, make sure you close your mouth and don’t say anything that would leave hurt the child. Hold your hands at the back and if possible walk out of the room to calm yourself down.  Physical movement will affect your mood and helps in changing the mindset. Once you are calm enough, apply the same technique with the child. Ask him to jump, walk, play, bake a cake, water the plants, your plan is to get him involved in any activity that he likes. He wont listen to you at first , hence you’ll have to address the problem first , for instance he’s crying for a Ben Ten Watch , you start your sentence with , ” I know that you are crying for the watch and that you like it a lot and then give your answer as to why he cant get the same.”

2) Feed your Soul : when we are hungry what do we do? We eat right, it nourishes our body, we get rejuvenated, similarly we need to feed  our mind so that not only us, but the people around us are happy as well. Sometimes the situation is the same with the kids as well, they are cranky simply because they are either hungry or tired

Action : Well-rested, well-nourished children who are on predictable schedules tend to have fewer behavioral issues.

3) Quantity VS Quality : Parents today are obsessed with being perfect. They want their kids to know every thing, which in a way is good because it’s the perfect time to teach them a new activity, however we tend to overdo this. One thing we need to realize is that the child needs us, our time and in quantity. Parents feel they should give their kids quality time, your quality would be defined completely by what you want the child to do, rather than what he wants to do with you.

Action : It’s simple really, spending time with the child should the most important aspect of parenthood, your kids will not be small always, they will  need your constant attention for certain number of years, once they are independent, you will think ‘where time flew’ so enjoy the moment, be in it. Everything else can  wait

4) Address the Behavior Or Not?: Many a times, children make a public spectacle of themselves, I am sure all of us have experienced a tantrum in some place or other, be it a super market, activity class, in front of family, friends and the list is endless.   All eyes are on you and the child, what do you do? In such a situation, the worst thing to do is to engage a child in the middle of a meltdown. Yelling or attempting to compromise or reason with her will only make the tantrum worse and increase your stress levels. The best way to tackle a tantrum is to ignore it, as said by Dr. Leman (Psychologist and Speaker)

Action :The best way to tackle a tantrum is to ignore it, Dr. Leman says. “When your child is throwing a tantrum, the purpose is to get attention and to exert authority over you. And if it has worked in the past, your child will continue to throw them in the future.” Dr. Leman’s suggestion is to step over the child, totally ignore the behavior, and move on with whatever else you were doing. Nine times out of 10, your child will get up and follow you. If you’re in public, don’t be so worried about what other people will think — this is about nipping this bad behavior in the bud.( I have tried this method couple of times and it has worked with me just fine)

5) Comparison Trap : As parents, we often even compare one kid to the other. Sometimes it’s direct, sometimes indirect. “Do you know your friend Ravi has 2 marks more than you. ” and indirect one is talking about someone else ” In our times the kids used to play outside their houses most of the time”.  Kids have ego-centric personalities. And they aren’t blind. They notice these comparisons. Every child is different, Can we compare Apples with Oranges??

Action : Celebrate their Individuality:  Children love it when we involve them in our activities.  Ask for their opinions on decisions. Plan out an outing with them, get their help in the kitchen or plan their study time table . Once they feel important and that there opinions matter, they will willingly do anything else you ask them to. The plan should be to get the child to do the activity willingly, rather than it becoming a burden for them. In their planning phase, get them to put it some activities which are a must after an activity which they really want to do, like reading the story book and then ask them to write or complete their homework. Setting a time limit for the activities also helps.

6) Address the problem : One very important thing we forget as parents is to address the problem when we are alone with the child. Talking with him privately is a foundation which can help a great deal with discipline issues.

Action : Get a Solution .Whenever a tantrum has taken place and you solve it either by being calm, ignoring, reasoning, privately speak about it with the child, your question should be asked in such a way, that should address his problem and make him aware of his feelings.

Eg ‘ You were upset in the supermarket because you didn’t get to buy the toy?’ (he will be upset, more likely to start a scene there itself) then acknowledge his feelings- I understand that wanted the Ben Ten watch, but the way you cried out left you with a running nose and hoarse voice. Then tell him what you expect him to do and sort out the matter with him. When the child knows, you acknowledge and care about his needs, he tends to be in a better position to listen to you.

Make sure you listen to what they have to say and always come down to their eye level while talking to them. This process of problem solving is something that most parents will need to do over and over again. Remember that kids need repetition in order to learn new ways of managing difficult situations and emotions. Effective parenting—and the ability for your child to calm down—just like anything else, takes practice.

7) The One Minute (Super)Mom : Spencer Johnson’s book is a beautiful one and I would like to give a short summery about it. Its another strategy to solve the child’s problem.

Action  :1) One minute goal setting: Each week family members set “I” goals and “we goals” (goals no longer than 150 words and all goals fit on one piece of paper). Then check in with each other every week, same time and place. Goals are written as if will happen. “I am going to…I will…” The success is by having a short and writing it down you can reread it several times a week. (Works well with over 10 years of age, my son and I usually do this exercise together.)

2) One minute praising: Catch your kids doing something RIGHT and praise them every time you do. It reinforces the good behavior that you want to see repeated over and over again and helps them keep doing it. ( This is such a beautiful exercise where you catch the person doing something right and tell them about it, you really start observing things in a different way.)

3) One minute reprimand: There are two parts of this minute. The first half you attack the behavior, tell your kids exactly how it makes you feel, get close enough to their face so they feel what you’re expressing and then PAUSE. Then, the parent collects themselves , touches the child (either a hug or on the shoulder) and says how they love the kid, they think the kid is so great but the behavior is unacceptable. (first 30 seconds to reprimand and next 30 seconds to praise, you’ll need to keep choice sentences handy while doing this exercise, but its a must try)

8) Use your Body language and Voice : Our parents and grandparents have many a times told us how just by a glance or a word the child used to do as the parent bid. Similarly in our case also, volume makes a big difference. “The louder we are, the less they hear… We logically think a louder voice penetrates ears and increases hearing. The problem is that when we raise our voices, our kids’ freak out switch gets flipped and automatically puts them on the defense.”

Action :  Be Firm, Be Polite, Be precise, have a Code word. We know by now how to acknowledge the feelings of our kids and how to deal with it. While speaking with them be firm but polite, your voice can help you give an effect and talk with them about having a CODE word, which if said, the child should stop whatever he does and behave himself. Kids usually know what they’re supposed to do; they just need some simple reminding. “They’ll tune you out when you go on and on,” Instead, try just one word to jog their memory.

I have experienced all these points and made use of them time and again , every trick doesn’t work every time, all days are not the same and all children are not the  same either, what technique works well with one child may not give the desired result with the other. The most important thing is that you solve your problems and have as much fun together as possible, so that you make memories to last for a life time. Ill leave with this quote ” Believe in yourself as a Parent, No one Knows your child better than You, you have been there since their first Breath,there is no better Advocate for their needs.”

Please do share in your experiences which have helped you sort out your issues and helped in raising your child

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Farida Bharmal

Graphologist, Therapist and Counsellor

I am a counselor, Graphologist, Handwriting Analyst and Life Skill trainer. Read to connect and know more about me.

Farida Bharmal

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