Hi Annie, I don’t want to yell at my child, but I’d like to know how to get my eight-year-old boy to do things without me having to yell at him. It’s not like he didn’t hear me the first time.
Hi Lesley, I know what you mean. Many parents say to me, “I don’t want to yell at my child,” yet it’s so easy to do. Sometimes, kids seem to have cloth ears, but the most important thing to look at here is why your son might not be listening. Parents, when they get upset, often tend to say things they don’t really mean. In the heat of the moment, we tend to blurt out things like, “I’m going to ground you forever” and then think better of it. The result of that is that we tend to stop being consistent between what we say and what we do. Now, nobody’s perfect and achieves 100% every time, but the bottom line is that you do have to be consistent enough to prove that you mean what you say far more often than not.
I don’t want to yell at my child: Then mean what you say.
When that balance shifts, you’ll notice your child giving you a “yeah, sure, mom” look, and as children get older, they tend to push those boundaries more and more to see if you’re really sure. Yelling is just a result of you feeling frustrated because he won’t listen the first time, so to fix it, you have to prove that you really do mean it. It’s also why I offer parent support services: sometimes you just need to talk through your options and get a helping hand to stay the course.
So to prove that you mean it, you need to plan ahead and take time out to really prove that you do mean what you say. You see, as parents, we all get caught up in the day-to-day. You’re busy; you need to get dinner on the table, facilitate homework, etc. That means it’s really tough to be consistent, especially during a period where you have to readjust his expectations of your consistency on top of everything else. Frankly, it’s asking for trouble, as you’re already committed 110%.
I don’t want to yell at my child: Make a plan!
So, what you want to do here is set him up. First, figure out some time in advance that you can have away from work or other commitments. Then say to yourself, “I’m going to do nothing else during that time but fix this issue of not listening.” That means that you want to have everything else done. As a result, you don’t have to concentrate on him and everybody else at the same time, so that means doing chores ahead of time, getting support to help with everything else, etc.
Then it just comes down to being consistent. Measure what you say and think about it before you react. With all the normal pressures off your shoulders, that should make it easier. Then make sure you follow through when he doesn’t listen. Give him one warning and then follow through.
All of this could be as simple as, let’s say, he loves soccer and just drags his feet when it comes to going out the door. If that’s the case, warn him in advance that you’re only going to wait for ten minutes and that if he’s not ready, well, you’ve just got better things to do than hang around all day. If you do that, though, mean it and don’t go and then be entirely boring. Don’t play another game with him during the missed soccer practice, and make sure whatever it is he is allowed to do is not more exciting or as exciting as soccer. It’s even better if the soccer coach asks him where he was at the next practice. You can be sure that the coach, having noticed his absence without an appropriate excuse, will mean that your son likely won’t do it again. You only have to do that a couple of times, and he’ll take you seriously.
For more help with your parenting, please visit my parenting services page.
I hope this helps.
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