To encourage children to listen, it’s important to communicate in a way that encourages cooperation. There are subtle differences in how you speak to your child that can affect whether your child will do what you ask or tune you out.
Nagging and yelling usually don’t get children to listen at all. So why do we keep trying it over and over again?
We had one such moment not too long ago that was a bit of a wake up call. I realized that I had been distracted and often forgetting to slow down and have really meaningful conversations with my kids.
Working on my own communication skills has had such a positive impact on the whole family.
Take a look at this fantastic conversation I had with my 6 year old son:
As I was reading a book, my 6 year old son tapped me on the arm.
“Hey mom! How is your book?” he asked.
“Great.” I said. “And I can put it down and play a game with you if you would like!”
“Yes! Awesome! Thank you! cool…can we play UNO?” was his reply.
So we played 3 rounds of UNO. We giggled. We laughed. We negotiated funny rules. We laughed more.
Soon enough he ran off to play in his room and I went back to reading my book.
Fast forward about two hours and I walked by his room with some cleaning supplies.
“Hey mom, what are you doing?” he asked.
“Cleaning the living room” I said.
“I can put this away and help you.” He offered.
My son offered to help clean the house.
I had to let it sink in for a moment.
My son not only offered to help, he got up immediately, put his toys on the desk and walked with me to the living room.
“I’ll dust over here mom.” he said and we cleaned the living room together.
Setting Up a Respectful Atmosphere
How often do you say things like this to your child when they make a request?
In a minute.
I can’t right now.
Do you ever feel annoyed when you ask your child to do something and in turn they answer you in the very same way?
Just a sec.
Ugh, does it have to be now?
Here’s how respectful communication can encourage more cooperation and listening
Model respectful communication.
Avoid name-calling, criticizing, and blaming.
Aim for cooperation and problem-solving.
Offer choices when it is safe to do so.
Modeling respectful communication is beneficial to the whole family
It’s a sign of great respect to ourselves and to our children to attend to the needs of the whole family.
This is particularly applicable when we want to interrupt our child’s play and are expecting cooperation.
By noticing what your child needs and deliberately focusing on how you can work together, you directly increase the chances of your child wanting to cooperate with you.
Respectful communication can sound like:
- “I’d appreciate your help for five minutes in the kitchen, after that you can get back to what you are working on.”
- “I notice you are playing, I need to interrupt you so we can leave. How about two minutes more so you can finish up?”
- “I’m busy right now, but I am super happy to play with you in about 10 minutes. You can set a timer and come and get me then!”
If we want cooperation from our children, we need to be present, connected and deliberate as often as possible. True cooperation, without nagging and yelling really can happen. Especially if we care about sharing and respecting the needs of the whole family.
Focus on building connection, spending time together, being present and showing your child you care about them. Then finding a way to work together, even on tasks like cleaning up and getting ready for bed will be so much easier. Not effortless, but certainly easier.
So tell me, do you have any big challenges with getting your child to cooperate with your requests? I’d love to hear about any situations that seem to make defiance or misbehavior show up that you would like to turn around.
Peace & Be Well,
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