First let me say I’m not against bribing. Well, I am, actually, but not for the reasons you may think. I’m against bribing because in my very scientific self-studies, it doesn’t work.
I’ve tried it on family picture day. “If you give big smiles, then you can have this lollipop!” Flash forward five minutes and all the kids are doing is crying about the lollipop they want but is not yet in their grasp.
I’ve also tried it at the doctor’s office. “Be quiet for five minutes, and I’ll let you watch a show when we get home.” All that followed that was a whiny fit over how long five minutes was and a squabble about which show would be picked.
Not worth it. Bribing children does not work.
But we’re not at a total loss because there are things that do work. I can attest to them, as they are the strategies I use at home and have had a much better success rate than my lame attempts at bribery.
So if you are stuck in the frustration where bribes don’t work, join me in implementing these simple solutions that will provide the results you’re after without the headache of fishing a lollipop out of your purse.
10 Secrets to Getting Your Child to Listen
- Don’t start speaking to your child until you have her attention. I really hate repeating myself, so I’ve learned if I wait until she’s looking at me and focused, then I can be certain she heard me and I don’t need to say it again.
- Consequences for not listening should be related and immediate. What if you know your kid hears you but he still doesn’t listen? That usually means that related and immediate consequences aren’t being enforced. Here’s how to make consequences effective.
- Use fewer words. As parents, sometimes we give too much information and the child gets lost in our loquacious ways. Be kind, but direct, so the directions don’t get lost in translation. “Go put your shoes on now.”
- Acknowledge their point of view. I don’t know about you but I do not like getting interrupted if I’m the middle of something I deem important. In your child’s world, building a tower or reading a book is their important stuff. So it’s great to wait until a natural break in those activities, but if time is of the essence, then a simple acknowledgment can go a long way. “I know you are focused on that amazing block tower right now and I hate to pull you away, but I need you to…”
- Stay calm. To quote Brene Brown yet again, calm is a super power. Raising our voices really doesn’t do much good. Read more on how to be a calm parent here.
- Set a good example. If you are distracted or staring at your phone when your child speaks to you, she will most likely follow your example. This is a struggle point for me, so I really put effort into remembering to set down my phone, get on her level, and looking her in the eye when she has something to tell me.
- Choose your battles, or rather, requests. Only demand their attention when there is something you really need them to do, otherwise it becomes a bit like the boy who cried wolf. If you are telling them orders all day long, it waters down the times you really need them to pay attention.
- Give more explanation. I know this kind of contradicts number three, but sometimes giving a brief explanation gives a child some context as to why a certain behavior is necessary. “Be quiet, I am on the phone and I need Nana to be able to hear me.”
- Give one instruction at a time. At ages 7 and 4 1/2, I can now give up to three instructions at once if they are short and simple (go inside, take off your shoes, wash your hands). Still, for the most assurance that what I’m asking will actually be done, I try to stick to one, especially with Kaitlyn. This way the task doesn’t get lost among the weeds of unnecessary instruction.
- Ask you child to repeat you. This one has been a golden tip in our household! It’s truly the only way I can know for sure if what I said sunk in.
Don’t forget to consider their age, too. Young toddlers are notorious for shiny object syndrome, but sticking with basic expectations and formats for delivering instruction will help them learn to listen a little bit better each year.
What are your best tips and tricks for getting you child to listen?