How to Get Your Kids to Listen

Rebecca Scarlett By Rebecca Scarlett, 12th Jul 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Parenting

Tips to get your kids to stop disobeying and listen to you.

How to Get Your Your Kids to Listen

Parents worry constantly about whether or not they are doing a good job raising their children. One of the big worries as a parent is how to deal with disobedience. Disobedience is a difficult thing to define, as it means different things to different people. Sometimes, especially in a young child, behaviour that seems like disobedience is actually just a case of the child honestly forgetting what you asked them to do or not to do. This kind of situation needs to be dealt with differently from full-out defiance, which occurs when a child is completely aware of what the rules are, and chooses to break them anyway.
The first kind of disobedience is not a true defiance on behalf of the child. A child who is excited about what is going on at that moment may all too easily forget what you asked her not to do a few moments ago. Such a child should not be harshly disciplined, because at this point she has not actually broken a rule. Try reminding the child what they are supposed to be doing or not doing: "Are we supposed to run in the grocery store?" If your child immediately slows down and apologizes for running, she probably got caught up in the moment, and was not being defiant. If she answers "I know, I know" but keeps running, or says something rude like "I don't care" or worse, you have a true disobedient moment on your hands, which needs to be dealt with differently. But how?
Children should not blindly obey adults. Children are their own people, so the only ways to get them to blindly obey are through fear, which usually involves abuse of some kind (hitting, telling them they are stupid or worthless, etc) or actively encouraging them to never think for themselves and let adults do all the thinking for them. Obviously, neither one of these things is an acceptable option. Instead, it is important that a child understand why a rule needs to be followed, and that they decide for themselves that they should follow it. Explain to your child, speaking respectfully, why they must follow the rule (It's not safe to run in the grocery store. You could slip and hurt yourself, or bump into someone else and hurt them.) If you have trouble with this method, examine the rule you are enforcing. If you can't think of a good reason why your child should follow your rule, it may not be such a good rule. Children see the world in black and white, and require reasons for doing things or not doing them. As the adult, it is up to you to provide the reasons, although they will sometimes have to be tailored to make sense to the child.
There are children who defy simply for the sake of defiance. This is often a cry for attention. Once they realize they will be treated with respect when they think for themselves and make good, safe decisions (which results in behaviour that follows the rules) they often stop the childish acting out. In cases of stubborn defiance, don't make discipline about venting your frustration. Children can sense that they have gotten the better of you, and, once your children are larger and stronger, how will you enforce time-outs, anyway? They'll just get up and walk away. Explain your actions to them in terms they can understand. Sitting in a corner for five minutes has nothing to do with calling your father stupid. Why discipline a child with a time out? If you call your father stupid, however, you hurt his feelings (just like it hurts your feelings when your brother calls you stupid). Maybe when your father's feelings are hurt he does not feel like doing nice things for you, like reading you a bedtime story. This discipline relates to what the child did and can be explained to him in a way he understands. Making a connection that a child can understand helps them learn and remember for next time.
Although not everyone agrees with this kind of "soft" discipline, remember that you are raising someone who is going to have to learn to think on his/her own. You are not going to be there every minute of your child's life to make decisions for him/her, and the earlier they start to learn about actions and consequences themselves, the earlier you will be able to trust them to make good decisions, making those teenage years much easier on you!


Disobedience, Kids, Listen

Meet the author

author avatar Rebecca Scarlett
Rebecca Scarlett is a professional freelance writer with over 14 years of experience. She writes articles, essays, blogs, short stories, plays, poetry, songs, novels, and does copy editing. She has been published in print and extensively online. Scar...(more)

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author avatar Adrienne
2nd Apr 2011 (#)

Even if I explain to my child, she stills screams and kicks until she gets her way. I can still punish her, and she will still scream for hours until she gets her way. I don't know what to so anymore. She's only 2, and I go through this every day. Should I talk with a doctor?

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