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My children ages 5 and 6 will not listen without me threatening to hit them. I do not like to hit and I would like for them to listen to me without me repeating myself one hundred times


Naomi Drew Replied: How frustrating it is when our kids don't listen. First of all, please know that you are truly not alone. Two of the biggest complaints of parents today is kids not listening and fights among siblings. You are right in trying to refrain from hitting. When we hit, we reinforce hitting and aggression among our kids. Over time, hitting becomes less and less effective, as does yelling. What else can you do? Here are 6 steps you can take immediately: 1. Get to the root of things. What do you intuitively believe is at the heart of your kids' defiance? At the end of the day when the house is quiet, put your feet up, have a soothing cup of tea, and ask yourself this question. Our internal wisdom reveals itself in quiet moments. Trust your gut. At the root of the problem could be jealousy, resentment for lack of time with you or their dad, problems or conflicts going on in your home. See what rings true for you. Write it down and journal about it. In the process of writing, other insights unfold. Insight equips us to handle the problems that confront us. 2. Next, talk to each child individually. First express lots of love. Give hugs and affirmations. Tell your child what you love about him, and be sincere. Kids see right through our words if they sense the slightest tinge of insincerity. Then, give an "I" message like, "I feel very frustrated when you don't listen, and I'm upset that so much fighting is going on. I don't like yelling and threatening. How do you feel when that happens?" Listen to what he has to say and reflect back (paraphrase) his words. Ask your child why he thinks the fighting is going on. Keep listening and try not to interject opinions or judgments. The more you listen, the more trust you will build. 3. After speaking to each child individually, have a family meeting. Start off with hugs and some verbal expression of love. Have markers and chart paper at hand. Ask your kids for their help in solving the problem. Ask, "What can we agree to do so there's not so much fighting, yelling, and punishing in our home?" Discuss this together and then write down the best suggestions they make (along with your own). Ask them to suggest consequences also. Example: "What consequence should be given if someone doesn't listen to Mom? If someone chooses to fight?" Kids are more apt to honor rules and consequences when they have a hand in setting them. Some effective consequences are: time out, removal of privileges, reparations (owing you a set amount of time in chores for the time wasted in fighting or defiance), taking away of objects (video games, toys). 4. Follow through on what you say. If the rule is that there is no fighting, and the consequence is no TV for two days if there's a fight, stick with it unyieldingly. Each time we back off, we reinforce the negative behavior. 5. Spend at least 15-20 minutes a day with each child individually. This is absolutely critical. Parents have reported back to me that doing this improves discipline tremendously. By spending exclusive time, you send the message that your loving presence is something your child can depend on. If jealousy is an issue, spending individual time can be the cure. 6. If you do all of the above and the defiance and fighting continue, consider engaging in some family therapy. Doing so is a sign of wisdom and strength, not defeat. Nipping the problem in the bud now will prevent larger problems from happening later. Good luck, and let us know how you do.
Posted On 2004-11-01 08:20:34
Mark Viator Replied: Strong willed children can be a challenge. We need to understand that strong-willed children will constantly test boundaries. It is so important that you establish clear, concise, and reasonable boundaries. You need to explain these boundaries to your children and make sure that they understand them. Also, let your children know that if they break these expectations, they will immediately loose a privilege or incentive. Be sure to find privileges that mean something to your child, such as playing with friends or his favorite video games. I recommend that a privilege or incentive be taken away for a 24 hour period. If they follow the rules, then they get to keep their privileges. The main point is to remain consistent. If you give in, sway from your rules, or allow them to "team up on you," you are no longer being the guiding parent. If you remain consistent and follow through with the loss of privileges for not following the rules, then your children will understand that you have set the boundaries and they will remain consistent. Remember, the more you "play into the game" the more they will push and push the boundaries.
Posted On 2004-10-05 16:30:13
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