“I wish my kid(s) listened to me more...” How many of you expressed this desire with a sigh at least once in your parenting career? Me too, many times. It seems as though we can’t connect with our children, they won’t listen to our advice, nor respond to our requests. We try different approaches, utilize advice from family and friends, draw from our own experiences as kids, or read countless books; some of us even go to the extent of taking our son to the doctor to get his hearing checked (true story! and he is fine, by the way, thanks for asking). But somehow, there is still a gap that needs to be filled, and we wish for a solution that isn't going to take a fortune to acquire or ages to master. Now, what if I told you that it all boils down to five simple easy to remember steps that can be used in any situation? Excited much? Well, here it is:
1. Stop and listen!
Children like to get their emotional needs met, too, even if they may not be aware of what they are. For some, it may be certainty (or safety), for others love and connection or maybe significance. We want to invest some time into understanding their Model of the World, how they assign meanings to any given situation, and what moves them to action. How specifically can we do this? By giving them 15-30 minute chunks of undivided attention, carefully listening to whatever they are saying and being present; by playing the game of favorites where each person proclaims their favorite color, movies, vacations, events, etc. (you’d be surprised how much you don’t know about your kids). And lastly, by asking questions that allow them to open up and share their perspectives. Important note regarding questions: you just listen without judging answers or preaching, because the sole purpose is to collect information, not straighten up.
2. Play games!
Anywhere and everywhere, as much as possible. Games bring out playfulness in parents- children can relate better to a silly dad or a girly mom. Games teach sportsmanship and patience, as well as communication skills, math, and problem solving. Games help us recognize behavioral patterns, and enable kids to improve both their gross and fine motor skills. The best way to go about it is pick a variety of family favorite games and alternate them during the week. Great alternative: a trip to the local amusement park.
3. Reinforce positive behavior:
As Tony Robbins would say, "Where focus goes, energy flow." When you focus on good behavior and call it forth, the children will follow. How do we achieve it? By rewarding what we want to see more of and at the same time, staying away from indulging them into unwanted behavior. For instance, when they are doing good we should praise them for every good deed and remind them of how positively their demeanor is impacting their surroundings (a small material reward is OK also, if that’s what rocks their boat). Not so great behavior should be dealt with swiftly and... well, I’ll just leave it at that. The more we focus on positives, the more of it is going to show up. Oddly enough, this applies to other areas of life, not just parenting. Wink, wink.
4. Be a good example.
If I have learned anything from my two little teachers since they were babies, it would be that they mirror my behavior, whether positive or negative. When they would act up, I would immediately check within myself as to what I am thinking or doing, and what they are trying to protect me from by drawing attention to themselves? We are their greatest role models- they look up to us, imitate us, even seek our connection through mirroring our behavior. Therefore we want to be careful with what we are putting out there for them to see and feel. So, think twice before you curse at that jerk in the lifted truck that just cut you off on the freeway... or express your frustrations with work/relationship/finances/parenting in an unproductive way in front of little sponges, our children. I usually take a breather and quickly think of five things I’m grateful for, it has served me pretty well.
5. Love them!
Unconditionally! Even when they are misbehaving. Shower them with love: cuddle and kiss, rough-house, give gifts, help them with homework, lovingly look deep into their eyes and tell them how much you love them multiple times a day. These are all different ways to show them love given their so-called love buckets, about which you can find out more in the book “The Five Love Languages for Children” by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell. They also have an adult version, in case you want to make your significant other feel really special and loved.
So, there you have it. Yes, it’s that simple. Since I know you are a dedicated parent (why else would you be reading all this?!), and you can hardly wait to apply some of these strategies, I will end this writing immediately and let you go enjoy your children.
To your success!
Check out her blog: Bringing Sexy Back