9 ways to get your kids to listen

By Rae

The last few months miss Grace has been asserting her independence. I have found myself raising my voice, being less positive, and just feeling like a grumpy mom that I don’t want to be. So I reminded myself that in my past (pre mom) life I successfully worked with students with really challenging behaviors. Now a two year old has my number! I decided to take it back to the basics. Looking through some old notes I had I found this list of “Nine Variables That Affect Compliance”- aka: how to talk to so your kids will (sometimes) listen to you! I have kept them on mind throughout the day and it has really helped me be more positive and more effective with my communication with my two year old. I hope you find something helpful for you in this list. This week I’m targeting #1, #4 and #9. It’s changing our dynamic in a positive way. Maybe it’s the sunshine but I really think this list is saving my summer!
I have to give credit to Dr. Douglas Cheney at the University of Washington. These 9 variables are based on his research which I learned about at a seminar circa 2010.

1. Direct requests vs. questions
I was doing this all the time! “Do you want to pick that up?” “Do you want to go potty?” “Will you stay on the porch?” Grace was all: Oh thanks for asking NOPE.

2. Distance
It is more effective to make a request up close (3 feet).

3. Two requests
It is recommended to only give the same request twice

4. Loudness of request
Use a soft but firm voice, yelling is less effective.

GUILTY. In my defense, I wasn’t quite yelling, but definitely was getting louder with each request. As if she didn’t hear me…ha! This week I have really tried to focus on this one and it has helped so much! She’s a kid that needs an explanation and needs to feel heard. Me raising my voice just made her immediately shut down. Oh and laugh in my face. Super cute.

5. Time
Give kids time to respond and quietly wait. It takes them a few seconds to change gears sometimes.

6. More start instead of stop requests
Ask them to start a positive behavior instead of stop a negative one. This one sometimes takes some creativity. What’s a positive way to say “Stop picking your nose!?”

7. Non-emotional instead of emotional requests
Use a neutral, calm, non-emotional tone. I can be sarcastic and I really try to keep in check because I know it is all going to come right back at me when they are a little older. Yikes.

8. Descriptive requests
Try to be positive and clear. Instead of “behave”, you could say “sit down and use a quiet voice”

9. Reinforce compliance
Celebrate the little things! I’m trying to make it a *big deal* when Grace does listen the first time I ask her to do something so she understands that I appreciate it. Sometimes it’s genuine surprise and I don’t even have to fake it.


Here’s to less conflict in your summer (and more beverages with umbrellas)!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s