How do We Raise First Time Listeners?

By Libby Hudson Lydecker

“There are few things as frustrating as having to repeat the same requests over and over again, only to have to resort to screaming to get the kids to put their #*$% shoes on.”

Or why does nobody hear mommy until she screams like a lunatic?

There are few things as frustrating as having to repeat the same requests over and over again, only to have to resort to screaming to get the kids to put their #*$% shoes on. The morning ritual in many parent’s household often becomes a battle of wits with kids not listening until mommy really loses it. More often, this creates a very unpleasant and unproductive atmosphere in the home. So how do we get our kids to take us seriously and listen the first time we ask?

The problem is, our kids have become inoculated to the sound of our voice. If we repeat the same request, “Please get your shoes on,” without action on their part, or consequence on ours, they become accustomed to ignoring us. Knowing there will be little consequence until mommy loses it and shouts, there is little incentive for the kid to get moving and spring to action. We’ve trained them that they don’t really have to move their butts until we yell. And really ,the yelling is actually more harmful and stressful to ourselves than it is to them. Unfortunately, if there is no consequence, such as  a privilege being taken away, there is no real motivator for cooperation.

We have to retrain ourselves. If your family has gotten into this habit cycle, take comfort, there is still a way to turn it around. But it will require great self discipline on the part of both parents. You must form a pact that if the kids don’t listen the first time, a consequence is given. Not just a threat. An actual consequence. This is key. If we threaten without follow through, we are teaching them in essence, to not take us seriously.  Beyond that, the consequence works best if it is truly hitting where it hurts. I know for my kids that usually means to take away screen time, cancel a play date, or no tv time; basically taking away something that they really enjoy.

If we follow through with a consequence, kids will pick up pretty quickly that mom means business.Give them a warning to get the new rules started. If your kids are elementary school aged, they are old enough to sit down for a family meeting and discuss the new agreement. Start off by saying how Mom really hates starting off the day by yelling. Explain how it’s no fun for you, and it’s no fun for them. Ask your kids how you can solve this problem together. Take their suggestions into consideration and then tell them that there will now be a First Time Listener Rule and a consequence of A, B or C if it is not followed. They may push back with cries of “That’s not fair!” or “You’re being mean!” But the truth is, you are doing everybody a favor by creating boundaries for  more harmonious home.

Good luck, stay strong and don’t give in! Give yourself a sanity break.

Your vocal chords will thank you.

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