A day where everything you say to your children seems set to repeat-mode?
Doesn’t matter what you’re asking them to do…
You have to say it over and over again: come here, come here, come over here, please.
Clean your room, clean your room, if you don’t clean your room…
You get exhausted from a day of not being heard. And your kids? Well, they’re just not interested.
Something needs to change, but you’re out of ideas. What else could you possibly do to make them obey — or at least respond?
Time outs won’t work. Grounding won’t work. Taking away privileges won’t work.
Even shouting won’t work — not long term, at least.
The Mindset You Must Change First
Repeating requests and being ignored is so frustrating for parents that it’s easy to assume that children are trying to be difficult.
Stop right there.
For one moment, please consider the possibility that your children don’t want to be difficult. Why would they want that? It gets them in trouble and it makes them unhappy.
Above all, children want to be happy.
So what makes a child happiest? Freedom to live true to his or her best self.
When a child ignores an adult, that child is ignoring someone who’s not speaking to them in a way that honors their true nature. Your children are telling you something when they ignore what you’re telling them.
When you speak in a way that honors your child’s true self, they will listen.
So what do you do if a child’s “true self” wants ten bowls of ice cream and bedtime at midnight?
Should you just let them do whatever they want?
No. You should still say it’s time for bed. But say it in a way your child hears.
It’s less about words, more about tone.
In my work with children over the years, I have discovered 4 basic types of children with similar patterns of motivation and behavior. When you customize the way you speak to children in a way that is consistent with their nature, they listen up.
These animated and social children respond best when communication feels light. They shut down when they are talked to in a way that feels too heavy.
They’re on board for anything that feels like a game — even bedtime.
The Sensitive Child:
These emotionally oriented children respond best to gentle tones and reassurance. When they feel rushed or harshly spoken to, they withdraw or whine. They obey peacefully when they feel their emotions have been heard.
The Determined Child:
If they’re already moving, they respond best when redirected, rather than stopped completely. Better yet, they love it when parents jump in with them!
The More Serious Child:
The most logical of the bunch, these children prefer straightforward, grown-up communication. Logically explain to these children how their actions fit into the bigger picture of what you’re trying to accomplish and they will respond.
It’s okay if you don’t immediately recognize your child in these brief descriptions. You can get more in-depth information to learn which nature your child expresses, but now you at least have a head start!
It Goes Both Ways
Name the last time you looked your child in the eye and said, “I’m listening.”
Your unique child needs you to listen uniquely.
Fun-loving children want you to participate in their animated stories.
Sensitive children want you to hear and validate their emotions.
Determined children want you to just say, “Go for it.”
And more serious children want you to look them straight in the eye and hear them.
It’s time to stop feeling frustrated and start feeling heard — for both of you.
What do you think about that?
Discover more about how customizing your parenting approach leads to more listening and cooperation.
About the Author
Her fifth and latest book, The Child Whisperer, turns longstanding parenting assumptions on their head and gives adults eye-opening tools to understand and honor the children in their lives.
Which amazing parents do you know who would love to learn these valuable insights and find some relief from kid-related frustrations?
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