Updated: Jan 3
Ever found yourself in the hallway in the mornings, saying:
"Put your shoes on, we're going to be late! Did you brush your teeth? And don't forget your school bag, your water bottle is on the table."
And your child just stands there, staring at you.
So you try again
"Teeth. Go brush your teeth. We're going to be late"
"Oh, look, you'll just have to leave your teeth for now, brush them extra-hard tonight, just GET YOUR SHOES ON. I've done your school bag for you, all you have to do is PUT ON YOUR SHOES"
WHY do they not listen?
In my positive parenting workshops, when I ask parents to list the parenting challenges they are having, the top three are
My child won't listen
My child won't sleep
My child is hitting/biting
More on 2 and 3 in another blog post. Here are 5 easy parenting tips that you can put in place straight away to get your kids listening to you. I've used the example of getting ready for school, because that was my biggest struggle, but you can easily switch it up for the times when you say "Get ready for bed" or "Put away your toys"!!
Keep It Simple and Short (K.I.S.S.) Instead of using full sentences with several different tasks, just give one task at a time, with one word. So try "Shoes" or "coat." Make sure your tone is respectful. The aim isn't to make our child feel bossed around, but simply to help their brain process the information.
Make Contact Get down on their level, and look them in the eye before telling them what they need to do. As an added bonus, use touch - put your hand on their shoulder, wait until they look you back in the eye, and then explain, simply, what it is you'd like them to do.
Use physical gestures Point to the next step - point at their shoes while saying "shoes". This helps them make a connection between the word you're saying and the action they need to take.
Make a visual routine chart with them Sit down together, explain that mornings aren't working, and that you need their help. Do a routine chart where they choose the order, and then simply point to the next thing on the chat. If you want to know exactly how to put that in place, look at my whole blog post here
When you've built that routine chart, then you can ask 'What's next on the routine chart?' Asking questions engages a different part of the brain to the one that follows instructions, children then need to think for themselves and work out what is needed. If they're little, you can ask these questions in a limited way "Red or blue toothbrush? Hop or skip to the bathroom?" When they're older, make them open-ended "What do you need to do to be ready for school?", "What was our agreement about the morning routine?".
And then take a step back and allow them to do what's needed (or allow them to experience the natural consequences of not being ready for school, but that's a blog post all of its own
I hope you found these tips helpful - let me know! If you'd like to go further, then there are several options:
1. Sign-up for my newsletter - Get my 10 Top parenting tips as a free download, and weekly parenting tips, my favourite books and podcasts. 2. Want more listening tools and sensory hacks? Join Munira, a sensory specialist, and I on 26 May for a 2 hour interactive workshop with plenty of time for Q and A.
3. Contact me to find out about my individual coaching offers.
PS: We need to model good listening too! When your child wants to talk to you, put your phone down ;-)