Listening to Your Kids so They Will Listen to You

02/03/2017 04:35 pm ET Updated Feb 05, 2017

Do you feel like no matter what you try, your kids don’t listen to you? Certainly not the first time. If it’s a momentary delay, it’s tolerable but when it starts to feel chronic then there’s a problem to be solved.

When it’s not only brushing teeth and putting clothes in the hamper, but getting up for the school bus on time so there’s at least a few minutes of breakfast, doing homework when it’s due, and clearing dishes and other chores that are theirs alone then parents need to face that something is going on in the parent-child relationship.

Using Parental Intelligence

The key is to use Parental Intelligence to find the underlying problems hiding behind the general sweep of not listening over and over again. Parental Intelligence means taking a step back and tracking first when this problem occurs. Is there a pattern that is a clue to the problem?

Next it’s important to self-reflect on how you feel when you’re not listened to time and time again. Do you feel hurt and angry? Then does your tone of voice change to sharp words and yelling impulsively? If that’s the case, this will worsen the situation because then the child might blame you for always yelling and screaming.

This doesn’t mean you don’t have the right to feel disrespected, but the yelling only makes things worse. Parental Intelligence also entails making sure that you are asking your kids to do things that they are developmentally capable of If they don’t listen because they don’t know how to do the task, this is a different matter.

For example, some kids rooms are so disorganized that they truly don’t know how to begin to straighten them out. Organization is a task that’s learned and so you may need to nonjudgmentally do it with them until they get the hang of it.

Listening to Your Child’s Mind

Learning how to listen to your child and find out what is really cooking on his or her mind is the crux of using Parental Intelligence. Here are some tips:

1. At a quiet non-stressful moment when no one else is around, tell your child you need their help in understanding the ‘not listening to you problem.’ Tell them you love each other and know you don’t mean to hurt each others’ feelings, but something is going wrong and you really care about their opinions on this problem.

2. Now that you have respected them by opening up the avenue to listening to their thoughts and feelings, they most likely will reciprocate. It may take time at first if this is entirely new. If you get a curt response, let it go and tell them you really want to hear their ideas when they are up to it.

3. Try not to act judgmental with a laundry list of times they don’t listen, instead make it a general;like you’re leading up to a punishment, but sincerely care about them.

4. Tell them straight out that you imagine not listening to you has to do with them feeling you don’t listen to them. This will be surprising to children and teens of all ages and should open the door to learning what’s been on your kid’s mind for a while.

5. Here are some samples of what you might hear. Your teen says he’s been doing badly in the subject he avoids doing his homework for and wonders if he can have a tutor. Your child’s self-esteem is low because he always feels teased by kids at school and so when he comes home and gets yelled at, even if it’s justified, he feels like more of a loser.

The Door is Opened by Using Parental Intelligence

Now you and your child are on a different track. He or she is sharing their thoughts and feelings that have been distracting them from listening to you. They aren’t really upset with you, they have problems that need your nurturing and understanding. Using Parental Intelligence in this way does wonders! Soon your kids are listening to you because the underlying problems are being worked on. They feel your love and devotion. The parent-child relationship has been strengthened and you feel so much better about each other.

Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. is a psychoanalyst and author of Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child’s Behavior found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Familius and wherever books are sold. Visit her at her website for more advice: http://lauriehollmanphd.com.

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