It’s every parents’ dream … children that just obey! Unfortunately, kids don’t always do as they are told. Our dreams as parents are squashed pretty early in the parenting game.
Your sweet kids learn to test you early, don’t they? As toddlers, they’re learning the basics of the world. And, they’re just beginning to explore their independence. The older they get, the more they believe they are their own authority. While it’s okay to give them some space to learn personal responsibility, it’s important to maintain control, especially when your child is disobedient.
But, I have good news for you. You can get your children to listen and obey without begging, bribes, abundant threats, or raising your voice.
Isn’t that good news?!
By the way, you may forget and raise your voice from time to time. Give yourself grace. Parenting is exhausting and it sometimes these things happen.
What can you do when your child is disobedient and doesn’t listen?
For starters, remember that every child is different. Two children from the exact same set of parents are two completely different beasts (unless you got lucky … and I don’t really want to hear about it). For that reason, it’s important to be versatile when it comes to getting them to obey.
An added challenge is when you have naturally strong willed kids. These children will be more apt to test more frequently. And it will take a bit more work imposing consequences more often before they begin to follow the rules.
If you find that a particular consequence doesn’t seem to get your child’s attention, try a new approach. Keep adjusting until you find something that works best.
Remember, too, that not every consequence or act of obedience is equal. Choose an appropriate consequence for each particular act of disobedience.
Choose Your Battles
You may find that it’s not as effective to reinforce rules that don’t hold much weight in the grand scheme of things. For example, it may not be important your older children make their bed first thing in the morning. Can they make the bed after they’re ready for school? Or, maybe it’s not important for them to make it at all.
However, reinforcing rules that affect health and safety is much more important. You will want to reprimand the child who chose not to wear a helmet while riding his bike. And the child who crossed the street alone is definitely getting a consequence.
When attempting to get your children to follow the rules, regardless of their ages, issue an appropriate time limit. Simply giving them a list of things to do, without a timeframe attached, means that what you’re asking them to do may never get done.
Be an Active Listener
It’s always important to listen to your children. If you’re having trouble getting your children to do what they’ve been asked to do, take a moment to sit and talk. Ask what the problem is. For younger children, try to ask more direct questions … open-ended questions with a 5 year old never goes anywhere.
Don’t forget to try to put things into perspective, for yourself and your child. When your child is disobedient, asking a few questions and listening to their answers may reveal a lot at the moment. Of course, that’s assuming they haven’t reached a meltdown.
When you get down to the bottom of the issue, it will make it easier for both of you to begin understanding the steps needed to rectify the problem.
Say What You Mean
When you tell your child to do something, mean it. Following through is everything. Children who don’t obey only learn by being presented with a set of age-appropriate consequences. No consequences simply means that they can continue to ignore your requests without any major changes in their routine.
In addition, make sure your child is paying full attention to what you’re saying. Look him or her in the eye to show you mean business. Many parents make the mistake of yelling commands from another room. Typically, when this happens the request is taken much less seriously. If your child isn’t in the same room with you, ask him to come to you or take an extra minute and go to your child.
Probably the most important thing to remember is to stand your ground. Never give in, no matter how tense the situation. If you give in once, your kids will remember that the next time they don’t want to obey. They’ll drag things out until you decide to give in again.
Don’t forget laughter is the best medicine and can cure many moods. When all else fails, don’t forget about parenting teamwork … request some assistance from your partner. If need be, take a break and practice some self-care.
These are just a few simple things that you can do to get your child to obey you the first time, without the need to threaten or beg. It may take a bit of time to achieve satisfactory results. But, with patience and due diligence, chances are you’ll soon see major improvement.