How To Make Your Children Listen

Wonder how to make you children listen to you? Tips to make them hear you again, including positive reinforcement, planning ahead, and effective discipline.

Getting your children to listen is no easy task, but it is one that can be mastered with time and patience. The miracle of a listening child who does exactly what you want won't happen overnight, but by using the following tips, it may happen sooner than later.

Preventing problems

· Try and see the problem from your children's point of view. For example, you keep telling your children to clean their rooms, but they won't do it. Is it because it's not "cool" to have clean rooms? Will having clean rooms make it harder to find things? How did you feel about cleaning your room when you were a child? By understanding their perspective, you may be that much closer to a solution.

· Ask your children why they're not doing what you want them to do. Sometimes they may just answer "because we don't want to," but they also may have a good reason for not doing the task, such as "We need to finish our homework first," or "Steve is coming over, and we want to make snacks for us."

· Phrase requests politely. Instead of saying, "Clean your room now!," say, "Please have your room cleaned by 6 p.m. tonight," or "When you finish with what you're doing now, please clean your room," or "You can clean your room now, or in 20 minutes. It's up to you."

· Work with your children for solutions to problems. For example, if your child always leaves his dirty clothes on the floor, perhaps you could put the clothes hamper in a more accessible place.

· Rehearse situations. For example, if your children have trouble getting up on time for school, tell them what they need to do each morning when they wake up, and then rehearse the day before. If your children don't wake up on time, enter their room, and say, "It's 7:30 a.m. What do you need to be doing now?"

· Don't take responsibility for your children's actions. If they have trouble waking up, but you continue to coax them to get out of bed, you both have lost, because the children know you won't let them be late for school. Tell them you will call them twice, and then do it. Refuse to write them an excuse note if they are late for school.

· Avoid ultimatums. They perpetuate power struggles, and make both parties feel resentful. Instead, emphasize the positive aspects of a situation, such as telling your children how great they are going to feel when they finish a major project for school.


· Speak calmly and reasonably when asking your children to do things. If you yell, they will yell right back.

· Discipline your children in private, not in front of their friends, because that will embarrass everyone, and build resentment from your children to you.

· Follow through with discipline. For example, if you tell your children not to leave their dirty clothes on the floor, and they do anyway, don't wash any clothes that are not in the clothes hamper. Don't back down, even if your children have to wear dirty clothes a few times.

Positive reinforcement

· Have faith in your children. For example, if they want help with their homework, offer suggestions as to where they can find the information themselves. Tell them you have confidence in their ability to do the work.

· Recognize excellence. When your children listen to you and do what you ask promptly, praise them and tell them how much you appreciate their actions. Also make sure your children hear you say good things about them to your spouse, friends and other adults.

Getting children to listen can be a long, tough process. Children can also be expected to test you once in a while, even if you have the best discipline. Be brief and calm when this happens, and remember that the situation will probably improve eventually. Remember that the final reward will be worth it; you'll have well-behaved, responsible children who listen to adults.

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