How to Deal with Children Who Do Not Listen - Parenting Advice
Understanding our Children
Being a parent isn’t always easy, but being a child isn’t easy either. Two of the biggest problems among children and parents are the ability to listen and understand one another. Let’s face it, we do not always get our children and they do not always get us!
So what can we do to improve the understanding between our children and ourselves?
I am a single mother with a 7-year-old daughter. Over the years I have had my share of problems and questions which has made me do a lot of research on the subject of parenting. I got to the point where I thought I was just not a good parent, because my child would not listen to me. Come to find out, the problem was occurring so often because I wasn’t listening to her.
Listening to your child
Even as babies our children give us signals of what they want or need. A baby will have a unique cry if they are wet, hungry, thirsty or tired. We learn to differentiate their cries. We often get so good at it; we will get out the diaper and wipes before we enter their room knowing that they need to be changed. As they get older, a lot of us tend to listen less. We feel as though they are more able to communicate, so it should be easier for us to understand what they need. This is not always true. Even if your child is talking, they may not comprehend how to fully express their emotions in words, therefore they will cry, throw a fit, hit etc.
Let’s look at a couple of examples:
It is bath time. Every time you turn on the tub to give your child a bath, they start throwing a fit. You want to find a solution to this problem, and telling them JUST DO IT is not working, nor is it going to solve anything. Not only are you still frustrated, but they are still frustrated as well. This behavior will continue until you find out the reason why they hate taking a bath. We need to speak to them with comfort, compassion and understanding.
You can try by saying something like this:
I know that you do not like bath time, but it is very important that you stay clean so your body stays healthy. Do you have any ideas on how we can make bath time better for you?
What is the difference between DO IT NOW and what I just said? For one, they appreciate the fact that you are listening to them, and understand that they do not like taking baths. Number two, you will be giving them a good reason as to why they need to take a bath. And number three, you are letting them come up with their own solution, which will allow them to express what they like and do not like. They might respond with something as simple as this: I don’t like to take a bath because the water is always cold. Maybe if the water were warmer I would like it more.
I believe that our children should be held responsible for their actions. If they misbehave then they need to receive a punishment accordingly. But giving time outs and taking away her favorite toy never seemed to work for me. It never accomplished anything. I could not understand why I was not able to use punishment as an effective way of discipline. What it boils down to is misunderstanding. Using these simple methods reduces stress in both child and parent, and allows for easier communication and understanding.
Before I learned these techniques, if my child did something wrong, my first response was to say, that’s it, your punished and I would take away a privilege or something that she really liked. Most of the time this just made her more angry and I would get to the point where I just wanted to pull my hair out. The more I said she was punished the louder she would yell. The louder she would yell the more days I would tell her that she was punished. I think one time I got up to almost 2 months worth of punishment before I actually broke down and cried. What was I doing wrong? Why did she care so little about being punished? I realized that by just punishing her, the core of the issue was not being resolved, so she was still angry. So even if I punished her for a year and a half, the fact remained that she was not able to efficiently explain why she was so upset she just knew she was and by me getting so angry I just added fuel to the fire. Slow down a little and try to understand the reason why your child may be upset or angry.
When child does not want to accept NO
My daughter loves to slams doors when I tell her that she cannot do something she wants to do. So thankfully I have changed my ways, and this is how it now goes:
She says: Mommy; can I go to my friend’s house to swim today?
I say: Sorry, you cant today we have other plans.
She says: But mommy please. I really want to go.
I say: No not today, we have other plans.
Door slams. I go to her room door.
I say: You know I don’t like it when you slam doors, slamming doors isn’t very nice.
She says: Leave me alone.
I say: Ok, but when you are no longer angry, please come in here.
A couple of minutes later she will walk out with her mad face.
She says: It’s not fair, I never get to do anything.
I say: I understand you are frustrated and want to go swimming, but we already made plans to go to grandma’s house, and she would be very upset if you didn’t come. I know grandma’s house isn’t as fun as swimming, but I will let you make plans for next weekend if you want.
9 times out of 10 she will walk away without saying anything. Then 10 minutes later I will receive a note from her.
The note from her says: I am sorry mommy that I slammed the door and got mad. I just wanted to go swimming. I love you.
By letting her know that I was upset about slamming the door, but not getting angry she was able to calm herself down. I wasn’t adding fuel to the fire. Her telling me "leave me alone" was a signal for me, letting me know that she needed a few minutes to think. Children need to get in touch with their emotions and giving them time to think about why they are doing what they are doing helps them understand themselves a little better. And by giving her a choice of what she wanted to do next weekend, she realized that her feelings are important to me and what she says matters.
Do you think children should be spanked?
Choose Your Battles
It has gotten to the point now where punishment isn’t really necessary, which is great. It is very hard to control our frustrations and it takes a lot of practice. I still mess up once in a while and yell first, but I quickly tell her I am sorry for yelling and start trying to understand the reason why she is upset. It will take patience on your part, but you can get there. Of course there are going to be times when you can’t figure it out. Times where they do NOT want to hear nor do they care what you are saying. They just might be having a bad day or are not feeling well. They are only human after all. Do not let an occasional misbehavior episode bring you back to square one.
And remember it is always wise to choose your battles. Everything does not have to turn into a fight. We do not become parents to have power or control. We become parents to show love, teach them right from wrong and show them how to express themselves correctly to prepare them for the future. They do not stay young forever, so enjoy it while it lasts. Happy parenting!