By Ali Katz
Author of Get the Most Out of Motherhood: a Hot Mess to Mindful Mom Parenting Guide
Most parents I know feel like their kids don't listen to them, at least not the first, second, or third time they ask them to do something. Our children are our mirrors for the good and the bad, so this is a perfect opportunity to think about whether we as parents are modeling good listening skills for our kids. Doing so shows them the way we want them to listen to us. Are we making eye contact with our kids when we talk to them and maintaining presence? Are we letting them finish their sentences without being interrupted and making sure they feel heard?
When you "listen with love," which is also called active listening, you are fully present to what the other person is saying, without half-listening and simultaneously formulating your response in your head. When you truly listen you are able to connect to the speaker's emotions and really understand where they are coming from. I wonder how often we listen to our kids this way?
Here are a few things that have really worked for my own family and my clients for getting our kids to listen, and now I call them my ninja mom tricks:
- Make eye contact when you ask your kids to do something.
Yelling at your kids from the kitchen that it is time to get shoes on while their eyes are glued to the television is simply not going to work! Taking the quick extra step to get in front of your kids and look them in the eye when you are speaking to them will really pay off and cut down frustration on both ends.
- Have them repeat back the request.
This has really been a game changer with my own kids, and it takes away the excuse they try to use with me all the time: "I didn't hear you."When I ask my kids to do something I have them immediately repeat it back to me. If I say, "We are leaving in two minutes, please get on your shoes," they must repeat back to me, "We are leaving in two minutes and we have to get our shoes on." If I can tell they are not one hundred percent with me I will ask them, "What is happening in tow minutes?" They say, "We are leaving." I ask, "What do you need to do?" They answer, "Put our shoes on."It sounds a bit juvenile and excessive at first, but it works like magic. I am crystal clear, and they know exactly what my expectations and their responsibilities are.
Yelling doesn't get my kids to do what I want, and it makes me feel like a crappy mom. Instead I whisper when I really want to get my kids attention. For some reason when I whisper or speak really quietly my kids hang on my every word. Speaking really quietly also helps me to stay calm. I have yelling. I feel horrible and it never ends up accomplishing what I want, so I end up just wishing for a do-over. Become a ninja mom in your home and notice how much easier things flow when you are taking these simple extra steps to be heard so your kids can listen the first time.
Ali Katz is the best-selling author of Hot Mess to Mindful Mom: 40 Ways to Find Balance and Joy in Your Every Day, and Get the Most Out of Motherhood: a Hot Mess to Mindful Mom Parenting Guide. She is a motivational speaker, and a meditation expert, and has been featured on ABC News, Fox News, MindBodyGreen, and Style Magazine. Ali's uncanny ability to make the concepts of self-care, mediation and mindfulness feel relatable, and downright fun, truly sets her apart from the traditional self-help crowd. Get Ali's "Sunday Prep," her 6 best tips for how to prepare for a stress-free week as a free gift at http://www.hotmesstomindfulmom.com/. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.