Do you feel like your child just don’t listen to you? Do you have to repeat yourself over and over again to get her to respond? Or, do you ask your child to do something and she ignores you? Before you schedule an appointment to get your child’s hearing checked, you may want to do a check-up on how you talk.
Here’s the thing. There is a possibility that you are talking in a way that is teaching your child NOT to listen to you? Your communication style may be encouraging your child to tune you out. Eek! Say it ain’t so.
Never fear. You are not an old dog who cannot learn new tricks. You are a fantastic parent who is doing the best s/he can. We’ve got your back. Check out these easy tips to morph into a preschool communication specialist.
1. Get close
It’s super tempting to call out to children from across the room - especially when you’re in the middle of something like making dinner or feeding the baby. However, when you get close to your child before you speak, you significantly increase your child’s ability to focus on what you are saying. It’s important to go where your child is, bend down at their eye level, make eye contact, gently touch their shoulder (for extra credit), and then speak.
2. Keep it short
Young child can generally only process and remember one to two commands at a time. When we find kids aren’t following our directions, it may be a sign we need to scale back and say less.
3. Be direct
Sometimes we make our directions sound like options. “Do you want eat your dinner?” “Pick up your shoes, OK?” If you are not giving your child a choice, then do not make your directions end with a question mark. Make your directions…well, direct. You can do this in a soft and kind way. Instead of the ambivalent examples above, try: “You need to join us for dinner now.” “Please pick up your shoes.”
4. Repeat it
No, not you, silly. Have your child repeat back to you what you have said. This is great way to know that they have heard and understood what you are asking them to do.
5. Follow through
When you state a boundary (“Throwing balls needs to happen outside, not inside.”) but then allow it to be ignored, you will continue to be ignored as well. As you set limits in the future, they’ll continue to be challenged. When you say, “We need to brush teeth after story time,” make sure that’s what happens. When you say, “I won’t let you climb on the table,” be sure the child is removed each time she climbs up.