They won’t listen
Many parents who call me up and need help with their child or teen, often tell me ‘I’ve tried telling them’ or when I describe how I’ve helped their child, they say ‘But I’ve already told them that…they don’t listen to me’! So I know many of you will be familiar with this, and I am a mother, so it happens to me too. I say in reply (in the nicest possible way).. ‘But you are their Mother, you’re too close to them’. It’s so much easier for kids and teens to listen to others; an outsider, with no motive, who is neutral, and not emotionally tied to them. Even young children often listen so much better to their teachers than their parents… hanging on to their every word.
Recently I was watching my 2 girls getting swimming lessons, they were so quick to do what the instructor said, for example putting their heads under water. I’m pretty sure I tried to get one of them to dive down and get something off the bottom of the pool on holidays, and there was no chance. But there they were, diving down for the Swimming Teacher, like it was second nature to them.
Sick of being told what to do
Children and teens become accustomed to not taking advice or listening to their parents, because we go on about things so much and we tell them what to do so often. They get sick of it and switch off. There are so many things that we need to get them to do by themselves, we become more ‘task orientated’ and less concerned about what they have to say about it. We can have many strategies; nagging, asking nicely, giving rewards, or punishments, we repeat ourselves, and keep trying to get them to listen, because its our job to get them to do things… such as ‘tidy your room’, ‘pick up your dirty clothes’, and for younger kids, ‘get dressed’, ‘brush your teeth’, ‘wash your face’… And what about the big ones, ‘eat your dinner’, ‘do your homework’ ‘go to bed’. The list goes on and on and on… Sometimes you just get sick of listening to yourself!
So, it becomes the norm to tell our kids what to do…. it is the natural order of things. If we didn’t what kind of child or teen would we end up? If they were left to their own devices and never told what to do… well it wouldn’t be pretty…
There is a way of getting your child to listen to you more… the secret is so simple, you have to listen to them more. The best example is when your child comes to you with a problem, for example they had a tough day in school, someone was mean to them. Stop what you’re doing, (if you can) and just listen to them, ask them questions, don’t jump in or judge, or get upset, give them the chance to decide what to do for themselves. Questions such as ‘What do you think you should do if this happens again?’ or ‘How would you like me to help you?’, ‘Do you need to do anything or say anything to try to sort this problem out?’ It’s all about the ‘what do you think you should do?’ type of questions. You can offer some suggestions but avoid telling them what to do and jumping in to solve it. What we are doing is building resilient children and teens because they know in the future what to do when faced with the problem again. They learn to trust themselves and their own solutions. We are all more committed to doing something if we came up with the solution ourselves. Click here for more tips on improving your parental listening skills.
Get help when needed
Life Coaching works really well not just because I’m a stranger helping a child or teen (and not their nagging parent), it works because life coaches are trained to listen and help a person to find their own solutions. Deep down inside we all have the answers but we get caught up in our thoughts and inner dialogue. Our heads drive us nuts with all the chitter-chatter. Get your child help sooner rather than later if they need outside intervention. Its amazing how quickly one life coaching session can change how a child or teen thinks when they are shown how to step back from their thoughts. I coached many beautiful teenage girls suffering from very low self confidence and self esteem. One girl realized in one session that she was telling her self not to be confident because she didn’t want people to think she was big headed… and therefore she had become the opposite, she wouldn’t go out with her friends, she kept changing her clothes and reapplying her make up… never felt good about herself because of all of the unconscious conditioning she had done to herself over a few years. Thankfully she was quick to change the record in her head and rediscovered her natural confidence – she was so much happier. (Yes, I have the best job in the world; to make a difference like that is what keeps me doing this).
Agree on ‘House Rules’
Try to agree on ‘House Rules’ together as a family including the technology and internet usage. Their buy-in should get you further than other methods. We still have to be their parents and we know best but there are different ways of bringing a horse to water. No matter how young or old your children are, their involvement is usually welcomed. Write out the rules and display them, agree the consequences when the rules are broken. This reminds me – be careful what you say – My 7 year old often reminds me that I once told her ‘sometimes you have to break the rules!’ Ops!!!
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