Quick Tips For Parents
On Listening-Cooperation-Punishment

Getting Your Kids To Listen. What can you do when your children don't listen to you?

Some Things That Do Not Work: These will all make children stubborn, defiant or hurt: Giving orders criticizing putting them down begging them

So what does work? First, go over to your child -look her or him in the eye. With young children, touch them to get their attention. Talking from across the room, or from another room, seldom works. When you are close to your child, she (or he) will hear you better. Tell you child what to do, instead of what to not do. Change "don't..." into "do..." For example: "Walk instead of running." or "Keep your paint on these papers."

Be clear -- be specific. Do not say "Be a good boy and clean up" instead say "Put your toys in this basket." Or instead of saying "Get ready to go," say "Put on your jacket and hat and bring your backpack."

Give your child information. Describe the problem. Information helps children figure out what to do. For example "I'm making a phone call and need quiet." or "Ants come in the house when jelly is on the floor."

Use fewer words. Children "tune us out" when we talk on and on. Instead of a lecture, use a word or a phrase to remind them. Like "Walk.," "Books . . . jacket." and "Homework before TV," The louder you yell, the less effective you will be. Screaming and yelling lets your child know that you are out of control.

Instead of Punishment: All children misbehave at times. It's a natural part of growing up. Why isn't punishing them a good idea? When children are punished, they become... Hurt Angry Defiant. They forget the wrong they did. They remember the "wrong" that was done to them. Children need to learn what to do instead of misbehaving. Punishment doesn't teach them that. Our job as parents is to help them learn.

TRY THESE IDEAS INSTEAD OF PUNISHMENT: Clearly, calmly, firmly, tell them what to do. Tell them what you expect. If they argue, don't get trapped arguing back. Simply use the "broken record" method: repeat your calm and firm statement. Express strong disapproval if necessary. But be careful not to attack with your words. Tell them how you feel about their behavior... and why you feel that way. "I don't like what is going on here! Somebody could get badly hurt!" Tell or show your child how to take care of the problem. "I can't work when my tools are all over. Hang them on the rack and put the nails in the can." or "Play ball in back of the house, not here near the window." Give a choice... but only a choice you can live with. "You may walk beside me or ride in the cart. You decide." or " Supper is at 5:30. Be home then if you want to eat."

Take action. Follow through when you have given a choice or told them what to expect. "Since you are not staying beside me, you must ride in the cart." or "Since you are still arguing over the toy, I'll put it away until after supper."

Remember you are the grown up. Stay cool, firm, calm & clear. We all make mistakes. We all "do the wrong thing" with our children. Lucky for us, most children are remarkably tough, loving and forgiving people. So if you goof, don't give up. But try again. And don't be afraid to say to your child, "I'm trying to work out some ways of being a better parent. What I just did was not what I want to do. I'm sorry and I'm going to try again."

From "Discipline is Not a Dirty Word" by Jennifer Birkmayer, Cornell Cooperative Extension

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