Why does no one listen unless I yell?! Here is why, and even better, some simple steps to stop this pattern from repeating itself over and over in your household.
So, how do we break this cycle of frustration? Easy. Decrease the number of commands you give your child.
Instead – do something different to follow up. Change the tactic. Walk over to the child, with the jacket in hand. Make sure they are looking at you and you have their attention. Get on eye level and repeat the command, along with the offer of a hand to walk them to the jacket. Handling it this way will prevent you from saying the same thing repeatedly (with no change in response), help you avoid a confrontation, and teach your child the sequence of listening after you give a directive.
Step three (a pick your battle life-hack) Use alternate strategies: One question that often comes up is how to lower the frequency of commands when kids require so many directives to get through the day. One alternative to giving a command is something called “I statements with environmental control” (so fancy). To explain, let me paint the scene: you are at your aunt’s house and your four-year-old enthusiastically begins running around, waving a breakable heirloom over his head. You need your sweet one to put it down. You could choose the approach of giving the directive “Please put that down gently!” (I know what you are thinking: that is NOT how that would sound). You also have another choice: you can get up, go over to the child, and as calmly as possible take the object out their hand. While you place it down on a high shelf you can say, “I am going to put this over here so it doesn’t break” (I statement with environmental control).
This approach is helpful because it solves the issue at hand while side-stepping a potential conflict. After all, what happens if the child says no/ignores you/runs away? It also avoids the likelihood of you repeating the command over and over again (aka adding to the day’s command payload) while probably breaking the heirloom in the meantime! Try this strategy in a variety of scenarios and notice how it can really help to reduce commands and help you avoid power struggles.
These tips are intended to help us navigate day-to-day commands with a little more peace, and a little less conflict—something nearly all parents long for. But remember, perfection on the part of parents is unrealistic, not to mention unattainable, unnecessary and not expected! We will all fall into the cycle of repetition from time to time – and we live and learn.