Nannies – Learn 5 Ways To Get Kids To Listen
One of my favorite songs in The Sound of Music is “Maria” It kind of perfectly sums up children.
“How do you solve a problem like Maria?
How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
How do you find a word that means Maria?
A flibbertijibbet! A Will-o’-the-wisp! A clown!
Many a thing you know you’d like to tell her,
Many a thing she ought to understand.
But how do you make her stay,
And listen to all you say? How do you keep a wave upon the sand?”
First let me just say, if you sang those lyrics in your head while you were reading them, you are indeed a fabulous person.
Here are 5 tried and true, road-tested, mother of college-age children approved techniques.
- Make Eye Contact –By far, this is one of the most important steps. If you must bend down, or sit them on the counter, make sure that your child is able to look in your eyes. And then wait until you have their undivided attention. You might have to take a minute and help them focus on your eyes and listen to your voice, but the simple act of making eye contact, at eye level, makes a huge difference in what a child actually hears. Additionally, they will feel less intimidated and more participatory in the conversation and required actions.
- Use Short and Clear Sentences – The day will come, my friend, when you can have long, drawn out, in-depth conversations about life, the stock market, hopes and dreams, where babies come from and boyfriends/girlfriends. However, start smaller when they are younger. When my boys were little I would break down the process of the goal I wanted them to accomplish. Then I would give them two steps at a time. When they finished those first two steps, they came and asked for the next two. As they grew and matured I was able to extend that to more commands, more words, more explanation.
- Ask the right questions – If you ask a child “are you ready to go to bed soon?” what do you really think the response will be? Instead, give options in the form of a question and allow them to choose, thereby giving them little bit of control in the process and teaching how to think through options and make good choices. Try this “it’s an hour before bedtime. Would you like to read for 30 minutes, watch TV or play a game?” When 30 minutes are up then they can have the option of brushing teeth first or laying out tomorrow’s clothes (or whatever bedtime routine you have).
- Keep Calm and Speak Calmer – In the interest of total transparency, no parent or nanny has always gotten this one right. Children have an innate ability to push us to the brink of all that keeps us sane. However, we all know that children will respond to our emotions and tone of voice. Keep your voice calm, your emotions calmer and watch your children respond.
- Follow Through on What You Say – The best parenting advice I ever received actually came from dog obedience training. Our instructor told us that if we were not willing to follow through on a command we gave our dog, then don’t bother giving the command in the first place. Example: If you are sitting down, and you tell your dog to lay down, but you are unwilling to get up and make the dog lay down, then don’t give the command. How does dog obedience training translate to raising our children? Our sweet and precious children really want to know that they can trust us. So when we follow through, whether giving a command, making a promise, enforcing a consequence, then they learn that it is safe to trust Nanny or Mom or Dad. This will build a really solid foundation for them to continue to listen well and follow through.
How do you make them stay? And listen to all you say? Build a solid foundation, make it easy for them to understand. and have a whole lot of patience and count to ten. A lot.