Tired of Yelling, Nagging, Reminding, Repeating?

Do you ever find yourself asking your kids to do something and then yelling, nagging, threatening, lecturing, or using repeated reminders or warnings because they didn’t comply? What you probably don’t know is that when you use any of those tactics, you are actually training your kids to learn that they really don’t have to do what you asked until you become upset, raise your voice, threaten, lecture, etc. So, if you are stuck in the pattern of screaming, “How come every day I have to ask you three times to brush your teeth? If you did it the first time, I wouldn’t be screaming at you right now!” the good news is that by implementing a few new tips and strategies you will be able to get your child to listen the first time.

Here are some tips to getting a child to listen:

1. Get the child’s attention – Go to your child, touch him lovingly. Get down to his level and make eye contact. Wait to speak until your child acknowledges you, looks at you or turns toward you. Then make the request. This creates connection and insures that your child heard you.

2. Use a calm tone – If our tone is not calm, it may be perceived as controlling, angry, or critical and this can quickly ignite a power struggle or hurt feelings.

3. Keep it brief – Too many words dilute and confuse the message. “It is time to start your homework” “You need to get dressed.” If it is a common request, use one word, for example, “clothes” or “homework.” Signals like ringing a bell to come to dinner, turning lights on and off to signal clean up time, or pointing to the clock at 4pm to send the message it is time to start homework can be very effective.

4. Be Respectful -Talk to kids in a way they want to listen. No one wants to hear nagging, complaints or criticism. Kids will tune out or become defensive. Children learn to treat others and themselves from the way they are treated. This makes treating them respectfully key.

5. Expect compliance – Have confidence your child will cooperate and imagine them doing what you asked. After giving the direction, give your child space. Resist the urge to repeat, hover or correct. Avoid bribes or threats.

6. If resistance occurs, empathize and use “ABCD Limit Setting Plan”

A – Acknowledge feelings -“I know you don’t want to get dressed, you really want to keep playing.

B- Briefly state the limit –”But it is time to get dressed for school.”

C– Provide Choice – “Would you like to start now or in 3 minutes?”

D- Done – The request has been made. You are done requesting. Most of the time, children will cooperate when you have executed effectively. However, if your child still does not cooperate, read on.

What to do when your child still does not cooperate:

You must take action and you have many choices. Using the above scenario you can:

  • Decide to start helping the child get dressed

  • Simply head towards the car signaling you are planning to drive to school on time

  • Decide to let the child go to school half-dressed and face the consequences of his action.

All of these choices send the message: I love you too much to fight, nag, hassle, negotiate and spend a lot of energy on this. He may yell, whine or beg when you take action in any of the above ways but your job is to stay calm and move things forward. Lots of deep breaths will be very helpful. A great phrase to remember is : “Nagging makes it our problem, silence makes it theirs.

For more information about our online parenting course or parent coaching, contact Karen Jacobson, MA, LCPC, LMFT at 312-330-3194, Karen@parentingperspectives.com or Lauren Bondy, LCSW at 847-562-9503, Lauren@parentingperspectives.com. Or, visit www.parentingperspectives.com.