Pre-parenthood, single people visualize having children as a beautiful, organic, and ideal phase of life. Having children that pretend that they are deaf and you don’t exist must have never crossed anyone’s minds–that is, until they finally cross that bridge, and inevitably feel like they want to burn that bridge down. When your child doesn’t listen to your advice, guidance, warnings, and requests, and unabashedly turns away from the shining path that you intend to lead them through, what should you do?
I know some might say you shouldn’t put the blame all on yourself–and you really shouldn’t–but parenting is truly a partnership between the child-rearing authority (you) and the children. Assess the reasons why your child has suddenly chosen to not listen. Is there an existing pre-conceived notion on his end whenever you raise your voice? Do you not do what you say as well? There is a saying that what a child sees his elders doing, he will emulate. Perhaps, he has seen you not listen to your partner as well, and without anyone realizing it, he began establishing this as a template.
When things get heated and you feel the brunt of the frustration building up, perhaps it would be good to take a step back, take a few deep breaths, and internalize that maybe your child isn’t actually morphing into a little devil, but is merely acting her age.
Kids are not robots, and as they grow up, they also need a bit of buttering up. This is not to say that they should be the boss. Rather, you should just be able to become a better manager. If you want them to do a particular action (such as help out with simple chores), it might be best to ask them to do so when they are not in the middle of playing a particular video game. Also, give them a heads up. The night before, you can ease them into a list of things that they should accomplish, so that they can prep their little minds as to what they should be doing the following day.
Attention is such a precious and precocious thing when it comes to kids, and part of getting them to listen is to actually become attention-grabbing. Especially since parents nowadays have to compete with so many factors, parents have to be irresistible. Don’t be so easy to dismiss! If you must stand there while you wait for them to shut off the gadget, or have to actually stand in front of him so he can’t see what’s on TV, do it. Naturally, drama might come about, but sometimes, parents just have to roll with it. Pull out the mom card if necessary, or if you hate drama, do it with a bit of humor. Bring out the puns and the ‘dad jokes’, and you might just elicit a few chuckles that’ll shake them off and get them to actually see you.
Instead of shouting out negative commands such as “Don’t do that!” or “I said ‘Stop’!”, go for the opposite, which is positive instruction. Telling them not to do something might be replaced better with “Pick up that shoe, please.” Moreover, “stop” could be replaced by a direct order such as “Stay steady please.” Tone of voice and a calm manner of instruction also come into play here.
Requests to do specific tasks can also become fun, as mundane chores that adults are used to have almost zero allure for them. If you need them to pick up their dirty laundry and put it in the laundry bin, make it a basketball shootout, complete with commentary! Congratulate them as they go for the three!
When you feel like screaming “Why won’t you listen?!”, consider the other factors as well. Perhaps nap time is upcoming? Maybe they just became too engrossed in something they were doing, and you pulling them away from it is just too hard to digest? It won’t be so bad to allow them a few more minutes to enjoy what they were doing, but make it clear that you will give them five more minutes, and after that, they have to obey.
Each parent’s disciplinary style is different, and when their disobedience or utter disregard for your requests goes overboard, it is up to you to draw the line. You could choose to punish them for blatantly disregarding you, but you will have to explain to them why you reached the point of taking action. In the same regard, if their actions caused a trickle effect of mistakes, show them what went wrong because they did not do as they were told, and let that become a realistic template for future use.