i often get asked how do you get your children to listen to you. It’s a very difficult question, as no two people are alike. at least when your dealing with adults they can understand you through reason. the same can’t be said for kids. so how do you get children to listen to you without raising your voice (or your hand), lets see some of the methods which have worked for me.
“Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” 1
we know that kids are different but we need to understand what makes them different. if we understand this then maybe we can meet on common grounds. and that is the aim, you want your child to listen to you because he chooses to listen and not because he feels forced to listen to you.
do you remember your first child? parents are generally a lot more over protective with their first child compared with the rest, a good example to point this out is i know a doctor who often gets calls from parents worrying about their kids, saying ’my kid has this issue and that issue, a lot of the time he responses with ‘is this your first child’ as he knows new parents are generally over protective. i remember with my first child i used to wake up in the middle of the night just to see if she was breathing or to see if she was alive. she was the only child i did it for.
with regards to my kids, my oldest is my step kid, we have a great relationship but he is going through his trouble teen years. at times his very stubborn, loves himself and he over eats most of the time, i don’t know if i know anyone who eats more than he can and his only 14. you may have children with similar traits, you need to understand that these traits which they have didn’t come over night, but took years ago. sometimes childrens traits may appear even before your child begin talking.
when my wife was got divorced from her previous husband. she was left with two children, so she did what every mother would do, love her children in the best was possible, and at times she was spoiling them, she felt due to the their father not being there, she had to give extra, so whatever they wanted she would get it for them, this led to ‘the child emperor’.
if you were to go to a child and say do you want a banana or an apple, he chooses the banana once you give it to him he says no i want the apple instead so you give his the apple, he then decided he doesn’t want the apple and wanted the banana, you give him what he wants, you have now made this little child an emperor, whatever he wants you give it to him. the problem is that this child doesn’t know whats right from wrong, all he knows whatever he wants you will give it to him , so naturally he will always put himself first. he can’t judge for himself but has the power of an emperor.
continuing this process from days to months to years and before you know it you have a 14 year old before you and your thinking ‘where did it all go wrong?’
the first thing you need to realize is as their behaviour didn’t come over night and it wont go over night, it’s a long process, there will be ups and downs. at times you would think that your child has mutures so much only for the next day they return back to square one. so its a long journey to improve your child behaviour and you must be next to them the whole time in a loving supportive manner.
the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach
they say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, the same can be said about a child. the keys to a good upbringing can be found in the stomach. for example, to teach my children patients, when dinner was ready i used to put out the food and when everyone sat down, i used to make them wait until everyone can to the table and when everyone came i used to make them wait a couple of minutes. to make them wait a couple of minutes will increase there patience as well as helping them control their heart’s desire. this is because they don’t get what they want straight away.
another method how food can be used for your child’s upbringing is by having set meal times. my children used to go to the kitchen and eat whenever they wanted. the problem was at dinner, which we eat together as a family, they would complain that they are full and not eat with us. by not eating together we lose that time for communication and family building, continue this for weeks and then years and we would have lost an enormous amount of quality family time. to overcome this issue we introduced set food times which they were only allowed to eat in certain periods (breakfast, lunch and dinner). this helped build family relation and bettered our children’s eating habits.
to get you children to listen to you, you first have to understand what the problem is, and then get your child to understand the problem. you need to see the past and see what you contributed to our child’s behaviour problems. see what actions you can do to stop them from becoming a ‘child emperor’. one of the first things you can do is to start monitoring there food. when dinner is ready and everyone has sat down, make them wait a couple of minutes before the begin. eating together as a family and have set eating times has many benefits such as improving children’s eating habits.
1 from Spanish philosopher George Santayana