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Behavior Makeover: Doesn't Listen

Six Tips to Get Your Kid to Listen the First Time
Use the following tips as a guide to getting your kid to listen to you the first time.
  1. Model good listening. Kids can't learn to be good listeners if they don't have good models to copy. So make sure you show your kids what you expect them to do by being a good listener yourself. Show them that you listen to your spouse, your friends, and, most important, to them. An old proverb is a great reminder: "We have two ears and one mouth for a reason." Listen to your kid twice as much as you talk!

  2. Talk respectfully. The fastest way to tune kids out is using these communication blocks: criticizing, ordering, preaching, opinion giving, judging, threatening, yelling, and pleading. Ask yourself how you'd like to be talked to if you were a kid, and use that as your model.

  3. Attention first, then talk. Get your kid's attention, and make sure he's looking at you before you speak. You might gently lift your kid's chin up so he looks into your eyes or give a verbal cue to get his attention: "Please look at me, and listen to what I have to say." When you're eyeball to eyeball, you'll have his full attention: this is the time to make your request. Using the same technique each time you really want their attention will cue your kids to listen.

  4. Give a warning. Sometimes it really is hard for kids to shift gears, especially if they're involved in something that interests them. Besides, he really may not hear you. So give a time limit: "I'll need your help in two minutes" or "I need to talk to you in a minute. Please be ready."

  5. Lower your voice tone. Instead of raising your voice, lower your tone. Nothing turns a kid off faster then yelling, so do the opposite: talk more softly, not louder. It usually catches the kid off-guard, and he stops to listen. Teachers have used this strategy for years because it works.

  6. Keep it short, sweet, and specific. Kids are more receptive if they know they don't have to hear a lecture, so keep your requests short and to the point: "Please make your bed before you go outside." "You need to get ready to go to school now." Limiting your request to fewer words also helps. Sometimes saying one word does the trick: "Homework!" "Chores!"
Behavior Makeover Plan
Think how you feel when you are truly listened to. Think about wonderful listeners you know. What makes them good listeners? What behaviors could you copy? Kids can't learn to listen if they don't see adults around doing the same thing, so tune into your behavior. What kind of an example are you setting for your child?

Now it's time to take action to begin making over your kid's behavior. Use your Makeover Journal to write down your thoughts and develop your plan.

  1. Consider whether you are guilty of using the eight communication blocks with your kid: criticizing, ordering, preaching, opinion giving, judging, threatening, yelling, and pleading. If you are, what will you do to change your behavior? Make a plan.

  2. Review the six tips to get your kid to listen the first time, and choose one or two to try. How do you plan to use them? Write about this. Remember that change in behavior is rarely instant, so experiment with the same strategy several times before trying another.

  3. If your child seems to have problems hearing (and not just hearing you), consult a pediatrician to make sure there isn't a physical condition.


From No More Misbehavin' by Michele Borba, Ed.D. Copyright © 2003 by Michele Borba. All rights reserved. Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Buy the book at www.amazon.com.

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