If anyone has the secret ingredient to getting kids to listen I am ALL ears! I cannot tell you how many times today I told my kids to clean up the playroom. I will tell my kids to do something and they'll blatantly ignore me, whine, walk away, start to listen and then stop... it gets to the point that I'm raising my voice and I hate that. I don't want to be THAT mom. I get whiny, raise my voice and belt out "Why can't you two listen?!" in frustration.
So I have a few ideas for getting kids to listen. Though most of the time I don't think of these in the heat of the moment maybe you will recall them in your own battles!
-Offer an incentive! Remind them that when they're done it is snack time or movie time or craft time or park time or whatever you have planned.
-Give them a 5-minute warning. Tell them they have five minute to finish up and then it is time to clean up instead of just springing something on them. It gives them time to switch gears and transition to a new activity more calmly. Kids do better knowing "what comes next".
-Make it fun! Turn on some music, set a timer and have them race to clean up. This is probably the one I use the most that works the most. Instead of raising my voice in anger I raise it in a sing-songy voice. I try to turn my frustration into fun.
-Get down and dirty. And by that I mean sometimes you're going to have to roll up your sleeves and just help. Kids under the age of 6 can be easily overwhelmed by a large mess. So much so that they shut down and can't figure out where to start. This reminds me of hoarders whose homes are full of piles and piles of stuff. They become so overwhelmed and just can't figure out how to unbury themselves from all their junk. So even if you're busy with something else or have other things to do you may have to suck it up and help the little ones organize. They need guidance and leadership. Showing it to them early on may mean having more clean and organized adolescents, teens and adults later on.
-Make it routine. Always have cleanup at the same time everyday (before dinner or bedtime perhaps).
I hate being disciplinary too. But I know I have to do it. Elaina has gotten to this phase where she'll tearfully tell me, "You don't like me! You always tell me to do things and I don't like it!" Etc., etc. It's so hard not to become defensive and bite back with your own stinging statement but it is so important to stay calm. I just tell her, "Elaina, Mommy loves you. When I tell you to do something it is because I love you. And when you get in trouble it is because you didn't listen to Mommy. Mommy needs you to listen so that you're safe."
And with all of this it is so important to follow through. If you tell your child that they won't get dessert for not eating their peas then they don't get dessert. If you tell your child they can't play outside until they clean up the crayons all over the table then they don't play outside until they clean up. I cannot tell you how many times in a fatigue haze I'd tell my kids, "Just go and play" and it is biting me in the behind. Operation Follow Through has been back in full swing and even though I get lots of temper tantrums from my 3-year-old toddler I know in the end it is helping to provide her stability and predictability in such an unpredictable world.
So what are your tips?! How do you get your kids to listen when it is important? Not just when it is cleanup time but whenever?