Do you HAVE to repeat requests to your child before you have a hope of them responding? Have you ever wondered if you should get your child's hearing checked? Ever find yourself asking, "Did you hear me?"
Reminders (or nagging!) are strategies used by most parents as an attempt to get their kids to complete things like their chores or remember things like their lunch. And yet, as Dr. Phil would say, "How's that working for you?" Is it REALLY working? Most parents are somewhat surprised to find that reminding their children actually (gulp!) teaches kids to not listen to their parents! Ultimately, nagging only robs your children of the opportunity to develop that all important "responsibility muscle."
"How can that be?" you might ask. You see, saying ANYTHING more than once sends two unconscious messages to your child:
- "I don't believe you will REALLY do what you promise you'd do,"
- . "I don't believe you can be totally capable, trusted or responsible to remember to do this without my reminding you."
As I state in the book, When You're About To Go Off The Deep End, Don't Take Your Kids With You: "Nagging and reminders can actually be an invitation to our children to do the opposite of what we ask! Save yourself the grief and don't go there!"
So it would seem that the solution is simply eliminating our reminders. BUT, what if your kid won't do ANYTHING without constant reminders? If this is the case, then you have trained them well indeed. Your children might know (conscious or unconscious) that they have the privilege of numerous reminders before they really HAVE to act or follow through. How do they know this? Because your reminders tell them so!
And what's your child's cue to really get down to business? Your loud and exasperated, "If I have to tell you one more time…!!!" Eventually, after repetitive reminders and frustration your child might get the job done. And yet, there is a much easier way. Curious? Read on.
Bite your tongue and say it only once!
By making a conscious commitment to say things only once, you will retrain your kids to listen to you the first time! But I have one word of warning! Your children are still going to forget (at least in the beginning). However, this is part of the process and indicates that you are on the right track. You and your child have been stuck in this pattern for a long time and it won't change over night. With consistency though, it is common to see changes within just a couple weeks.
So be prepared for your children to test you and choose to give them the opportunity to learn from their forgetfulness without the accustomed "I told you so." Use encouraging and commonsense consequences that help them learn from their actions instead. This approach does not require words, but requires action! A useful consequence to forgetting their lunch is either going hungry or, the more likely case, they will ask for handouts from fellow students. Going without lunch provides children with motivation to remember next time (much more than any amount of reminders you can ever give).
But, what if your children want you to remember for them? This is easy. An appropriate response to, "Mom, why didn't you remind me about my lunch?" is to happily and calmly state: "Because, I know you are capable of remembering yourself. I trust you will choose to remember to bring your lunch next time if you don't want to go hungry." This is the easy part for most parents. The toughest part is in being consistent and remembering to say it once and once only. For those of you who will have a difficult time keeping quiet the next paragraph was specifically written for you!
When you find yourself about to nag, a "time-out for parents" may be the key to your success. Simply leave the room anytime that you find yourself on the verge of nagging or repeating. Physically removing yourself makes it impossible to nag (locked bathrooms with loud fans are ideal escapes!).
The above suggestions are simple; yet, it doesn't mean that they are easy. Be gentle with yourself while going through the growing pains of change. Do your best to say things once! With consistency, you'll be amazed at just how eliminating reminders can quickly heal your child's selective deafness.
Written by Kelly Nault, MA, clinical counsellor, "mom advocate", author and speaker loves kids! That's why she wants moms to start putting themselves first. To learn more about how Kelly can support you in unleashing the "Ultimate Mom" within visit: www.mommymoments.com.