Frustration comes from things that are not going our way, and one of them is when our kids do not behave the way we like them to. And the result? We often use unkind words to force them to listen. But is that the right way to go?
It’s easy for parents to use a negative, threatening tone to make children conduct themselves properly, but it would take much more than that. We have to dig deeper as to why our children behave like they do, and think about ways to help them- not fight them (which just makes things worse).
Phrases to Use When Your Kid Doesn't Listen
It’s better late than never - so here are some positive phrases to start with to have a better communication with your kids and make them listen:
1 Instead of saying “Give it to me and I’ll do it for you”
You can say:
- a) I see you are finding it difficult to ______, do you need help?
- b) Are you going to do it by yourself or am I going to help you?
We totally get you. Sometimes we get impatient and just want to be done with everything fast so we tie our kids’ shoelaces or button up their shirts. But children feel empowered when we trust them to do things on their own before we offer them any help. When we give them a choice and make them decide - there’s no reason for them to push back.
2 Instead of “Stop crying!”
You can say:
- a) Can you use your words, please?
- b) I am going to wait for you to calm down
When you’re mad and tell your child to stop crying, you can bet- they will squeal. And it just makes it harder for both of you. What you want to do instead is to make them feel that you care, and you are the one who will listen to them this time. Give them the time to feel their emotions and self-reflect. Sometimes all your child needs is time on her own to feel her emotions and know that you got her back when she’s ready to communicate.
3 Instead of “Stop ____!” or “Don’t ______!”
You can say:
- a) Please _________.
- b) I’d like you to ____________.
“Please talk softly” is better than “Stop yelling!” or “Don’t shout!”
“I’d like you to be gentle with your toys so you can use them longer” is better than “Don’t throw around your toys!”
The golden rule applies here. You know that it doesn’t feel good when someone commands you to stop or not do something most especially if they said it with an unpleasant tone. So instead of doing the same thing to your kid, take a step back and think what he might feel when he hears it. Remember that requests are easily heard and granted, more than commands.
4 Instead of “ You’re too little to do that” or “You’re too young for that”
You can say: I’m not okay with __________ because _________.
Example: “I’m not okay with you playing with the scissors because I’m scared you’ll hurt yourself” is better than “Don’t touch the scissors, you’re too young for that!” - which doesn’t really explain why.
Letting kids know what you feel will make them understand you better. When they know what your concerns are - which is mostly their safety - children are more likely to respond positively. Aside from that, telling them that they’re too young for something makes them wish they were old enough instead of feeling enjoyment in their childhood.
5 Instead of saying “ No, I said- NO TOYS”
You can say: Let us add this to our wish list.
You might have experienced it when your kid threw tantrums while in a store because of a toy that he wanted to get but you didn’t have the budget for. The next time you shop with your kid, make sure to bring a piece of paper and a pen with you - or anywhere that you can put notes on. If he asks for something that is not on your shopping list, tell him that you will add it to your wishlist. This is not to lie to them. You would really have a wishlist that you and your child can look back to when you have the budget for it, or maybe when it’s his birthday or you’re celebrating Christmas.
When kids know that you’d really get back at your wishlist once you have the means, they won’t be as pushy as they would and learn to wait for the right moment. When you got a long running list, they may even refuse some of the things you initially listed and tell you they don’t want it anymore. Not only are you teaching them to be patient but they also learn to make decisions on their own.
What are some of your best practices to make your kids listen? Share it to us in the comments!