Have you ever said, “NO” to your child repeatedly and he refuses to listen?
- Did he keep hitting his little sister?
- Did he eat the candy anyway?
- He didn’t turn off the video game?
- He snuck out with his friends and went to the party even though you said now?
This is one of the most frustrating things that we deal with as parents and it makes us feel like we’re not being effective and like our kids don’t respect us and value what we have to say.
Fortunately, you’re not alone in this frustration.
Every parent experiences this from their children. I know I did with mine and now that I’m a grandmother, it’s still happening. In fact, this happened just a few weeks ago.
I took my granddaughter to a park with a big, lovely playground and she ran around trying everything. She started to get a little reckless and thought it was fun to go down the big twisty slide BACKWARDS even when there were other kids at the bottom.
I said no a few times, and she kept doing it!
Finally, I took her to the side for a timeout. She tried to run away, but I held her firmly and gently in her spot until she stopped crying.
After about 15 mins I said, “Are you ready to go back and play?” she nodded her head. Then I reiterated, “If Mimi says No, you’re going to listen next time, aren’t you?”
Parenting advice that works from a practicing pediatrician.
There’s a lot of bad advice out there so be careful! You’ll know the advice is good if it’s coming from a credible, proven-to-work source.
I’ve been a pediatrician for over 30 years. I’ve written 7 books which have sold around the world. I've spoken around the nation and given international parenting lectures. I even had the privilege of speaking at the UN.
I’ve done 100’s of radio shows and been on all the major tv shows but most importantly, I love kids and I’ve never met a child or teenager that I didn’t like.
I want to let you know, I believe you are a good parent. I know sometimes and maybe even right now, you may feel like you’re not doing a good job but the fact you are here now means that you are trying, exploring new options, and ready for change.
Maybe you’ve gotten frustrated to the point of yelling when your kids don’t listen, but that’s OK. I’m going to show you FIVE SECRETS you can use right away to get your kids to listen the first time.
Secret #1: Treat your child as though he or she is the child you WANT them to be, not as they are NOW.
So often, we confuse a temporary behavior or pattern that our children are showing with their identity.
For example, if they are constantly whining, we EXPECT them to whine and we might even label them as a whiner.
I know it sounds simple, but the first step is to treat our children as we WANT them to be… instead of reacting to how we think they are now.
This can start with a simple shift in our language.
Instead of saying, “Quit being a YELLER!”
You could say, “Johnny, you’ve really developed a bad habit that we need to change. You yell too much — at me, your sister, etc. We need to change that right away because I know you’re not a yeller by nature.
See how that works? You have affirmed to your son that he has a bad habit, but it’s not really who he is and YOU believe and KNOW that he can stop.
The opposite happens quite often…
I was working with a client whose daughter had broken her trust — Anna was 14, she was skipping school and her mom had used some consequences that got the behaviors under control.
Even though she had made huge improvements over the past 6 weeks, the mom still spoke to her daughter as if she was going to slip up again.
“Why would I let you go to dinner with your friend when last time you…”
What if Anna’s mom would have applauded her changes and spoke to her as she expected Anna’s good behavior to continue.
Our kids rise or fall according to our expectations of their behavior.
Secret #2: Walk away from a power struggle.
Many times, we parents lock heads in a power struggle with our kids.
When a kid says, “No! I won’t.
Or, “You can’t make me!” we get so angry that we decide we absolutely will make them!
We get mad, yell back and say, “I’m in charge, not you!”
Then the child fights back and a head-to-head fight begins about who is really in charge.
I was in the grocery store several years ago with my then 4-year-old granddaughter. We were having a great time when we turned a corner and an enormous display of Cheez-Its appeared.
My granddaughter said, “Can we get some please?” When I said no, she had a meltdown.
She was angry and determined to cry until I bought some. I said, “I’m sorry, but we’re not getting any now.” and she got angrier.
Rather than argue with her about who was in charge and who was going to determine if we bought them or not, I stayed quiet I let her keep crying.
At this point, I had three options:
- Buy the Cheez-Its. This would have been an easy option to get her to calm down but it would have communicated TWO very bad messages — She was in charge and all she had to do in order to get something was have a fit.
- Grab her and leave the store.
- Wait patiently for the tears to stop.
I chose option three. I stayed with her quietly, waiting for her tears to pass and the we kept going on with our shopping.
Calm creates calm. When your child looks up at you and challenges your authority, take a breath, stay quiet, and don’t compete for power. You’ve already got it.
Secret #3: Always follow through with what you say.
This is the NUMBER ONE mistake parents make that contributes to MORE acting out, and MORE bad behavior from their kids.
When we say things but don’t follow through, kids learn that they don’t have to listen to us because our words have no meaning.
They simply ignore us and do what they want.
Not following through with consequences is one of the most common reasons discipline does not work.
Many parents say, “Nothing I do works”. But when they examine what they are doing when disciplining their kids, they find that they often cave when giving a consequence.
When Rachel’s daughter swore at her she snapped back and said, “That’s it! I’m taking away your phone for TWO WEEKS.”
But then she got tired of hearing her daughter Sara complain, and she started to feel guilty, so she gave the phone back after 1 week.
The next time Sara does something bad, guess what?
She won’t stop herself because she knows that her mother is a softy and doesn’t really mean what she says.
Other times, in our anger, we say ridiculous things like, “If you don’t stop hitting your sister, you are going to sit in your room for one week without dinner.”
No parent would put their 5-year-old in a room for a week without food. The next time we say what a consequence will be, the child will simply roll his eyes.
Watch what you say so you don’t throw out consequences you can’t follow through on… And when you DO give a consequence? STICK TO IT!
It might be painful when your teenager can’t drive because you took away their driving privileges for a month, but it’s less painful than raising a child who doesn’t respect what you say.