Tuesday, May 27, 2014

How To Talk So Your Kids Will Listen?

Does anybody out there know the answer to this question? 

We seem to be going through a, hopefully brief, phase here.  CJ is my oldest, who is currently 3 years 4 months old, is just not listening these days.  And by not listening, I mean no amount of yelling, talking nicely, talking quietly, bribery, taking away of toys or privileges, time-outs, or anything else I can think of seems to be getting his attention.  He does what he wants until I am so exasperated that he finally goes along with what I am requesting of him, if only because I have scared him into it. 

I know what you may be thinking- be patient, he's only 3!  I do get this in concept, however, many days we need to be places at a certain time and I just don't have the time for him to take 23 minutes to go potty, walk to the door, and put on his shoes.  Frustration, unfortunately, wins.  (Frankly, Mommy could use a time-out once in a while.) 

I have to believe I am not alone in this struggle.

I sometimes have a glimmer of what's going on here.  CJ is asserting his independence and making his own decisions.  As I have said before, this is a kid who is fiercely independent and has demonstrated in many ways that he will decide the direction of his life - already at 3! (And, what does this mean we are in for down the road!?)

I also sometimes think that maybe this is a cry for attention.  To be honest, many moments of the day I am distracted when CJ is present.  Whether its tending to his little sister who is 15 months, making or cleaning up a meal, performing various job search activities while I navigate this new time at home, or any of the other myriad of daily chores inevitable with young children, I can't always be completely 100% devoted to giving him the attention he needs and deserves.  I have tried to become more aware of this and have made it a goal that once a day I spend some amount of quality one-on-one time devoted to just CJ.  The problem: it just does not seem to be enough to satisfy him.

So back to my dilemma:  How do I talk to CJ so he will listen and respond?  (And, so that I do not have to repeat myself 55 times before he responds.)  I do feel that I have tried to communicate to him utilizing various types of communication but no one thing seems to be truly effective. 

Sometimes he does respond appropriately.  And, truth be told, it is usually when I talk very calmly and nicely while holding his hand and/or looking him directly in the eye, with no nearby distractions. 

I need to try harder to always do this.  Sometimes, in the chaos of life, it just seems too hard to stop what I am doing and spend a few extra minutes to explain what I need him to do.  Although, I guess those extra minutes could save me even more down the road if he listens and responds right away, huh? 

Maybe I have answered my own question after all.  In the meantime, I know one mom that needs to practice even more patience and understanding and not place unrealistic expectations on these little ones.
CJ recently got treated to lunch at Costco for good listening.
(Not ashamed to admit my attempts at bribery.)

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