Has your toddler or pre-schooler gone "Mommy deaf"?
I'm going to give you a 3 step program that could turn things around in just a couple of days. First a word of caution. You're going to feel a little bit defensive and the very first thing you're going to think will be, "But I already do that and it's just not working!"
And you're right. I know you do and that's a good thing because it's going to make it easier for you to get your child back into the habit of listening and complying.
First I want you to spend some time right now thinking of your child and writing down all of their best qualities.
Be sure you have at least 10-15 words. down on paper and hang it up where it's visible to you. These things are the things that you appreciate about your child!
Pay attention and notice when they do anything at all right. Keep your list in mind and be specific. Use their name and tell them exactly what they did right and how it was helpful. It really helps to use their name often when they're complying. Notice when they're playing nicely or asking you nicely for something. If they whine or yell at you, tell them your ears don't hear that tone and ask again in 3 minutes in a nicer tone of voice.
Consistently and frequently tell them how you want them to behave instead of how not to behave. Focus on the good and prop your child up with real and specific encouragement.
Some examples of things to say might be:
Colin, I really like the way you helped your sister with that. You really are a great guy to have around!
Thanks for talking nicely to me, Hayden, It really makes me feel good about helping you.
I love it when you smile like that, Sheldon, It brightens up my day.
You washed your hands on your own, Penny. It's really nice not having to remind you. You're showing real responsibility.
You might be thinking that's all well and good but what am I supposed to do when they blatantly refuse to listen?
My solution to this is to walk over to the child and ask them to come into the other room with you to talk. Have them stop what they're doing and take them aside. Tell them that when they act like they don't hear you have to take a longer time to talk with them.
When they do stop, look at you and listen when you speak to them, tell them great, they don't have to leave the room or stop playing. Then watch and be sure they do what you ask.
When they do, thank them for listening. When they don't, have them stop playing and talk to you again.
They should start listening to you more often within a few short days or maybe less.
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Nanci J Bradley is and early childhood and family educator, author and all around fun loving person who believes in the power of sleep, lifelong learning, SELF care and more than anything else, PLAY!