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  • Hindi Nakikinig Ang Anak Ko: Expert Advice For Strong-Willed, Independent, Energetic Kids

    Avoid power struggles, show and tell kids you are on their side instead
    by Ronna Capili Bonifacio .
Hindi Nakikinig Ang Anak Ko: Expert Advice For Strong-Willed, Independent, Energetic Kids
PHOTO BY SHUTTERSTOCK
  • If parents counted the number of times they’ve said or felt like their young child ‘does not listen’ to them, parents would not have enough fingers to count with. Especially parents with strong-willed, independent, and energetic kids.

    Getting kids to listen to their parents is not an easy task. Author and respectful parenting advocate Janet Lansbury shares a few tips in her podcast ‘Respectful Parenting: Janet Lansbury Unruffled.’

    How do I get my child to listen to me?

    A mom wrote to Janet to ask about her four-year-old son who doesn’t listen to her when they go on nature walks with other kids and asks for tips on how to get him to listen without quenching his spirit.

    Sound familiar? Read four tips below on how you can help your child to listen to you.

    1. See things from your child’s point of view.

    Parents often forget to do this, especially when they are busy trying to get through the day’s activities. When a child forgets something at home, it is admittedly an inconvenience for parents when kids demand to turn around and get it.

    If you pause, take a breath, and put yourself in the shoes of your four-year-old who is attached to his toy, you might be able to extend more empathy toward your child. His tears and frustrations will begin to make sense. 

    Maybe for a parent, it would feel like forgetting one of your daily essentials at home, like a water jug. But from the point of view of a parent who is responsible for getting somewhere on time and no longer plays with toys, it’s easy to dismiss the child’s feelings.

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    Janet Lansbury says this tip positions parents to “want to be helpful rather than be the person that’s telling [a child], ‘Do this, do that,’ and ‘I’m frustrated with you.’” 

    2. Make your child feel secure and safe.

    Lansbury explains this very simply: A child “needs to feel his parents are that safety net, that they’re with him, that they either understand him or want to understand him, that they’re not blaming him for his behavior.”

    Keep this in mind next time you’re trying to get your child to listen.

    3. Your child is not choosing to ignore you, your child literally can’t listen to you.

    When a child is acting out or is experiencing big feelings, saying “You’re not listening to me” will not achieve anything. Lansbury says as parents, what that statement means is “you’re not following me.”

    “It’s not a choice to not listen. The child is in a state where they can’t for some reason.” Your child could be overwhelmed by their feelings aggravated by the situation of an angry parent.

    The author explains what's going on particularly to the child of the letter sender who "isn't listening". Lansbury says the child who is not listening is in “this other state of consciousness where he can’t control himself.” When the child hears the parent say “you’re not listening to me,” he is not able to stop his behavior and say “you’re right, I wasn’t listening, I’m sorry.”

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    What’s going on in the child’s body is that “overwhelmed, overexcited, somewhat anxious, out of control feeling that we’ve all experienced,” she says. But as adults, we can self-regulate. And when parents expect this of their young kids, that’s when parents grow frustrated.

    4. Avoid power struggles, show and tell your child you’re on their side.

    Re-evaluate the difficult situations and think about how you can set yourselves up for success. Rather than warning the child “If we join the nature walk, you can’t run away,” try saying something that shows the child that the parent believes in them to behave, and if they can’t, the parent can help the child.

    The first kind of warning pushes the “child into an uncomfortable power struggle state. This is especially important again with a child with a very strong will.” 

    Lansbury advises instead that what parents will want to do is to demonstrate “with everything we say and do that ‘We’re on your side. I’m not mad at you. I believe in you. I know you can do this and if you can’t, I’m going to have your back. I’m going to help you.’”

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