Mindful Parenting with Mel - How do you get your kids to listen?

By Mel Peirce - Certified Life and Parenting Coach April 18, 2023

Do you struggle to get your kids to listen?  A Mom at a recent workshop shared her frustration around her daughter not listening to her, and I could see other parents nodding their heads because they struggle with the same thing.

When parents are struggling with getting kids to listen, they are typically looking for tips and strategies for their kids.  As a coach, I know that how the parent responds to their child will have a direct impact on whether the situation will escalate or not — although I do share tips and strategies, I go one step further and coach the parents as well.

With the Mom at my workshop, I could tell that she had a lot of emotions around her daughter not listening, so I asked for her permission to coach her.  I then asked what meaning she had attached to her daughter not listening.  She teared up as she responded that she had associated her daughter’s not listening to mean that her daughter didn’t respect her.

I bring this up, because when the Mom thought that her daughter didn’t respect her, she felt frustrated, impacting her ability to stay calm, present, and parent effectively.

I want everyone to realize that our brain offers us thoughts all of the time, and not all of them are true — as was the case for this Mom.  Her daughter is only three, and not listening and asserting independence are par for the course for a three year-old.  In most cases, our kids not listening has nothing to do with their respect for us — or any other meaning that we have attached to it.  

How well our kids listen and cooperate has everything to do with how we ask.  But if we have attached a meaning to their not responding to us, it will directly affect how effective we are as parents in getting our kids to listen and cooperate.

As I mentioned in last week’s article, it can be helpful to remember that when kids don’t listen we are usually asking them to stop doing something that’s fun for them, to do something for us that’s not fun.  I invite you to consider that it’s normal and expected for them to not want to stop what they’re doing to listen to you.  

Imagine that you were sitting on the porch enjoying a conversation with a friend, and someone in your family came out and asked you to stop what you were doing and go clean the kitchen.  I’m guessing that you likely wouldn’t want to stop your conversation to go clean, and the same thing happens to your kids.

But what if your family member came out and explained that someone from work was going to be dropping by unexpectedly and the kitchen is a disaster?  They tell you that they hate to interrupt your visit, but are wondering if there is any chance that you could come in to help before their work colleague arrives and how much they would appreciate it.  Would you feel any differently about stopping your visit to go help if they asked in this way?

The top thing that you can do to help your kids listen is to acknowledge what they’re doing and how much fun they’re having, and recognize that it might be difficult for them to stop before you make your request.

Here’s what that might look like:
You have so much fun at the playground, and I know it’s hard to leave when you’re having fun.  We have to go now, but we can check the calendar when we get home and make plans to come back soon.  Maybe we can even see if one of your friends can come too.

When you recognize what your child is doing and how much fun they’re having, your child feels seen and understood.  When kids feel seen and understood by their parents they feel more connected to them — which makes them more motivated to listen and cooperate.

Do you struggle with getting your kids to listen and cooperate?  This month in the Confident Parenting Club we are discussing tools to help kids listen better, and strategies to avoid the battles before they start.  Click here to learn more about the Club and get access to more tools, scripts and strategies so you can start parenting more confidently today!  

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