“How many times do I have to tell you?” Do you find yourself saying this or at least thinking it often?
When our children are not doing what we tell them to, it is a good idea to stop and think about what may be causing this to happen. When we know the why, we can usually find a way to solve the problem. Sometimes our children have just gotten into the habit of not listening, but sometimes there is a different cause. Here are a few reasons your child may not be doing what you have been telling them to do.
The wide-angle lens
If your child is very easily distracted by noises or lights or even the sensation of a breeze on their skin, he may be experiencing his world through a wide-angle lens. These children are not purposely ignoring what you say. But they hear your voice as only part of the background noise.
For any easily distracted children, get down on their level, make sure you have eye contact and then tell them what you need them to hear.
Overwhelmed with Words
Some children cannot sort out the important from the extra words in a sentence. Many parents just talk too much, especially when they want their children to hear something. The more they say, the less the child hears.
For these children, make your directions as clear and to the point and in as few words as possible.
Forgetters don’t remember what they were sent to do. It may be caused by a short attention span or it may be an inability to remember 2 or more items at a time.
For the persistent forgetter, be sure you have their attention before talking. Start with only 2 simple commands at a time. Hold up your index finger and say the first item and then the second finger and say the second item. Have the child copy your actions and words. When they can successfully handle 2 move on to 3 and gradually move to a longer list of directions.
These children get so involved with whatever they are doing that they really do not even hear you. They may look you in the eye, but their mind is still on their current line of thought. They may nod their heads and even repeat your words, yet not have heard your words.
For the overly focused child, you must set up routines. They must know that there are times to play and there are times they must do chores or other activities. Set a timer or remind them a few minutes before they must close down whatever it is that they are zoomed into. Don’t allow a game or electronic device to engage your child for too long at a time.
A few other things parents can do to be heard by their children:
Be Considerate. Don’t interrupt your children unnecessarily. If the request can be delayed, give them a reasonable time frame to complete the task.
Don’t repeat yourself. Children will get used to not listening because they know you will repeat yourself. They will wait till the very last moment to obey. Stop repeating yourself. When you know they have heard you the first time, if they don’t obey, let the consequences follow.
- Let natural consequences occur whenever possible. “Since you didn’t put your shoes on, we are not going to the park.”
- Use consequences that are related to the infraction. “You didn’t put your Lego away when I told you, so they are mine for 2 days.”
- You can also have blanket consequences for not listening. “When you don’t listen the first time, you have chosen a time out.”
Our children must listen and follow directions in school. If they don’t, there are consequences. Should we expect less than teachers do?
When our children learn that they must listen to what we say, remember what they are to do, and complete the tasks in a timely manner, our homes will be more peaceful and enjoyable for everyone.