Every day feels like a fight. Whether you ask your kids to pick up their shoes off the floor, to go get dressed for school, or simply to come to join the family for dinner. It often feels like our kids simply don’t listen to us.
But whhhhhy? It’s so frustrating!
Are they actually trying to be difficult?
Do they actually want to make us upset and cranky?
No, not likely.
Most of us know that our children aren’t actually trying to make us into “Grumpy Mom” (as I often refer to myself when I am past the point of patience).
Think about it, growing up, did you really enjoy it when your parents were upset and annoyed with you? Highly unlikely.
So why don’t kids listen anymore?
We recently spoke with Katherine Reynold Lewis, who is an award-winning journalist, certified parent educator, and author of The Good News About Bad Behavior: Why Kids Are Less Disciplined Than Ever — And What to Do About It. She shares with us her perspective on parenting and kids based on her research into the data and her own personal narrative. Katherine strives to truly help families support kids’ ability to manage their behavior, thoughts, and emotions.
In her recent book, she notes that as parents, we are asking the wrong question. Instead of “why can’t my kids listen?” we should be asking “what’s getting in their way?”.
Katherine explains that there are many factors involved, but that some of the most effective things we can do are the simplest. In her book, she discussed the Apprenticeship Model that gives our kids responsibility with ever-increasing limits that are agreed upon by parent and child.
for parenting. This is a parenting model that focuses on the child’s ability to utilize self-regulation or self-control, which the parent can greatly impact. How?
Here are the 3 things you can do to help your child become more self-reliant and to build their self-regulation so they can do better and “listen” more:
Having a connection with your child is essential. This can be done by stopping to ask your kid questions about what they are struggling with. Or sometimes, it’s even just sitting right by them, just being there, giving them a hug or a signal that we are ready and willing to support them.
Katherine cites a neuroscience experiment that she and her daughter participated in at Columbia University where they were looking at the way our bodies co-regulate when we are with our loved ones. They found that she and her daughter’s breathing and heart rates started to synchronize (among many other things) after just sitting next to one another for a few minutes.
Wow! Now if that isn’t a true connection…I’m not sure what is!
We need to talk to kids about the problem they are facing. Ask them why they can’t seem to put their shoes away where we ask them to and then work with them on that answer. If they say they keep forgetting, ask them how they can better remember. Is it making a sign at the door? Is it putting a shoe tub by the door? Involve them in the conversation and more importantly in the solution.
Reflective listening does great in these conversations. It helps you better understand what your kid is saying and it makes them feel like you understand them. Both of these things help build your connection to each other!
Give kids the first crack at their own problems!
Saying things like “Sounds like you have quite the friendship problem” is so much more helpful than immediately stepping in and offering advice. Albeit the advice is coming from a good place in our mothering heart, it can often send the message to our child that we don’t think they are capable of solving their own problems.
Also, and I know this one will be pretty hard for many of us to take…
Kids need domination over at least one area of their life.
This could mean to let kids have messy rooms (within reason)!
Because it won’t always be messy. They will eventually find a way of organizing it that works for them. And the first time (or second, or third) that they can’t find their uniform for a game because their room was too messy- they will find a solution. And it likely will be some degree of organization or tidying up.
Katherine reminds us that “the only way to boost self-esteem is to face real challenges and overcome them”.
So next time your kid seems to be not listening or directly doing the opposite or what you asked, take a moment, breathe and try connecting, communicating, and encouraging their capabilities.
You will likely be very pleased by the results.
Resources We Shared:
Download the transcripts HERE
The best mom is a happy mom. To better take care of you, download our No Guilt Mom mindset here . These reminders will help you second guess less, and feel more confidence every day in your parenting.