Have you ever gone into your kids’ classroom, and watched in awe as 17+ little people follow the teacher’s instructions without back-talking, complying without repetition (read: nagging), threats or bribery? It’s pretty amazing how in-command teachers are of their realm, right? Want to know why? Because they don’t teach the kids that there is an option to not listening.
I often wonder how the same child who can hear you tiptoe past their bedroom door, or who can hear you slowly rip open the bag of chips two rooms away is the very child who can’t hear your simple request to put his book bag away. It really is very frustrating. You know what, though? They definitely hear you; they are just choosing not to respond… and you have taught them this behavior. I know, your immediate response is to deny, but … we all have to admit this is probably true in our family, too. Right? Unfortunately, this is a common mistake a good number of parents make: “No” doesn’t necessarily mean no. Your smart kids can read you like a book, and they know when they can get away with something, even if you’ve already claimed to deny them the pleasure.
Here’s the thing: you can un-teach them this behavior, too. Just as easily as they have learned that it’s okay to ignore your requests until the 5th time you give them, they also can learn that the first time is the only time to respond. Sounds too good to be true? Try these suggestions:
1. Be clear in your expectations. Give simple, easy to follow requests. Remember KISS? Totally applies here (we’ll sub in ‘sweetie’ instead of the more offensive ‘stupid’); keeping the requests simple will help your kids remember what you are asking them to do. Especially for younger kids, if you give them a multiple step request, they will likely forget a step or two.