Showing respect for a parent’s request:
Getting kids to listen!
Parents often want to know how to get their kids to listen and respect their requests to help out and take care of basic responsibilities. They wonder why they have to ask their child seven times to pick up his shoes before he does so.
Parents want their kids to listen. They want to be able to ask their children once and have them respond. But often, children do not respond. Some just ignore mom or dad, say they’re busy or ask them to wait. Others may be more defiant, simply stating, “No!”
Typically, most parents get very frustrated with this as it ultimately ends up in an ugly, unpleasant exchange. If parents do not develop an effective strategy, the pattern will worsen and they will end up repeatedly asking.
So what’s the secret to getting respect for a request?
There are three keys to getting your kids to listen when you ask them to do something. It doesn’t depend upon their personality, although some will respond more rapidly while others will take a little bit of time. However, the formula remains the same regardless of your child’s temperament.
1. You will get respect by offering respect. Many times parents fall into a pattern of using very controlling and demanding language. It might sound like this:
“Pick that up.”
“Put that away.”
“Get your homework done.”
“Stop hitting your brother.”
“I said STOP THAT NOW!”
No one likes to be spoken to in this way. If you want your kids to respond to a request, make sure that it sounds like a request, not a command. If you want them to pick up their toys or do their homework, ask them. If it’s a time when you need to be more firm and you have to get out the door, say it like this: “It’s time to get your shoes on because we have to go to the doctor’s appointment now.”
Avoid the command, “Get your shoes on now.” If you fall into that pattern you likely won’t like what evolves when your child moves into those teenage years. It can get really ugly when your words come back to haunt you!
This “asking” will not ensure a success. It just ensures that you speak to your kids in a manner that models the way that you would like to have them speak to you.
2. If it’s really important say it once and only once. If you are in the habit of asking seven times to get your kids to do something, their brain learns to expect seven requests. Only say it once.
3. Rely upon actions to teach respect for your words. When you follow words with more words, the value of those words becomes diluted. How do you expect your kids to know that you really mean business if you’re willing to repeat the same request a dozen times? The secret here is to find a consequence (that requires your action) and trust that the consequence will teach your kids to value your words.
For example, if you want your daughter to turn off the TV and come to dinner, ask once. Wait five minutes, then you walk to the TV, turn it off and walk out of the room without saying a word.
If your son starts bugging you for a treat in the grocery store, tell him no once and then proceed with your shopping. If he wants to have an upset, let him have his upset, but your “action” is to walk away from his whining and upset.
In every situation, you want to remain respectful. You will never feel bad for maintaining your cool. State your position once and then follow with decisive action.
If you follow this simple formula you’ll see that your requests become honored with increasing consistency. Just remember, though, that this is a learning process. Don’t expect perfection immediately. You have to allow your kids the opportunity to learn and that may take two to three weeks. Be patient and let the respect for your requests build over time.
Dr. Randy Cale, a Clifton Park based parenting expert, author, speaker and licensed psychologist, offers practical guidance for a host of parenting concerns. Dr. Cale’s new website, www.TerrificParenting.com offers valuable free parenting information and an e-mail newsletter.