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 doesn’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 and it’s easy to do. Sometimes, kids seem to have cloth ears but the most important thing to look at here is why he 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, you do have to be consistent enough to prove that you mean what you say far more often than not.
That means mean what you say
When that balance slides a bit, you’ll find your child, giving you the sort of ‘yeah, sure mom’ look and as kids get older they tend to push those boundaries more and more just 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 to because 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 in advance and take time out to really prove 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 to go through a period where you readjust his expectations of your consistency on top of everything else. Frankly, it’s asking for trouble as you’re already committed 110%.
Make a plan!
So, what you want to do here is to 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 do chores ahead of time, get support to help with everything else etc.
Then it just comes down to just 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 as he’s older 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 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.
Hope this helps.