Does this sound familiar? You find a shoe, toy or other object belonging to one of your kids. You call their name and ask them to get said object and put it away. “OK, Mom!” is the response. You move forward with your day because there is just so much that needs your attention. Five minutes later the object is still there. You call out again, and again get an, “OK” response from the child. Ten minutes later the object is still there. This is just life with kids, right? Well, it turns out that better results are possible.
This was my life too, though sometimes there was even a lack of verbal response from the kids. My frustration would continue to grow. Eventually the child would respond to my request, once a consequence was given. It was a lose-lose situation.
Trial and Error
I tried many strategies to get the children to listen: I spoke quietly so they would really have to focus on listening. I spoke loudly (sometimes I even yelled a bit). I gave out consequences. They all worked a little bit, some of the time.
I was becoming frustrated and I suspected my kids were less than happy about the situation too. Then, I stumbled upon something that actually worked. All of my other attempts seemed to work at the beginning too, so it took me a few weeks to realize that this actually does work in almost every situation.
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The Trick to Get Kids to Listen
So what does it take? Each time I had something important to tell one of the kids, I got the child’s attention and asked them to look me in the eyes. Then I would make my request. And they would respond to it, almost every time. For the few times there was a lack of response, I immediately got their attention and asked them to look me in the eyes again. I would then repeat my previous request and it would always get done that second time.
**Pro Parenting Tip: Get down to their level. (I often have to kneel to be eye to eye with the younger kids.) It shows them that you are giving them your full attention.**
Knowing how powerful this strategy is, I use it any time I really want the kids’ attention. I realize that doing this every time I speak will make it less effective, so I save it for when I feel myself becoming frustrated and want to stay calm. I also use it when I am talking to one of the kids about something important.
At this point, all I have to say is, “(Insert child’s name here), eyes.” All four children know that a serious conversation is about to happen. It could be about putting away a toy, doing homework now, or apologizing to a sibling. Once is all it takes. They know that when I use this strategy, I mean business.
One Other Tip
Consistency is key when using any strategy. My children know that it is time to listen when I ask them to look me in the eyes. They know that whatever comes next is important. This is because I have been incredibly consistent. I make sure they follow through with my request, every time. There is no wiggle room.
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The Best Part
My favorite part of using this strategy, other than its effectiveness, is that everything is done very calmly. Because there is some one on one attention happening as well, I often get a hug, smile, or some other token of affection from the child. This strategy has reduced yelling (on my part and the kids’) and has also reduced frustration all around. Important things are taken care of in a timely manner. The frustrating former situations described above are now win-win situations. Everyone is happy!
What are your top tips to get kids to listen?