Why kids don’t listen…

August 11, 2016


‘How to talk so kids will listen & Listen so kids will talk’ is a book and course written in the 80s, with accompanying shoulder pads, ‘word art’ fonts and classic music of that era.

I’ve asked the authors, Elaine Mazlish and Adele Faber, when they will update it on several occasions, to which they reply: “it is still relevant and therefore we have no plans to do this”.

Kids haven’t changed…

This got me thinking, they are right.  Over the decades kids haven’t changed, not really.  And after the immediate giggles at the obviously outdated fashion and fonts, these distractions are almost invisible.

Parents are transfixed on their words.  Why?  Because what they say is so relevant, in the 80s… today… and for as long as kids are around on this earth.

Kids don’t change.  But the way we respond to them does.

How to respond to kids

My job as the facilitator of Key to Kids, is to share these fabulous techniques with a range of parents.  We start by introducing ourselves around the group, explaining what we hope to get from this course.

Over and over I hear the same sort of responses.

He’s so stubborn.

She argues with me all the time.

They just don’t listen.

So how has this come to be?  Children are challenging their parents daily by ignoring their requests and denying them cooperation.  Why?

Here’s what I’ve observed:

1. We talk too much

Us, well-meaning parents do our best to morally educate our children but we just use too many words.  It’s understandable that we just want to explode when we’ve asked the same thing four times and it’s still not done.

I can’t believe that towel is STILL lying on the floor.  If I’ve asked you once I’ve asked you a million times – Please pick up the towel!  It will never dry if it’s left on the floor, let alone the messy appearance it gives your room.  Seriously!  You are so careless!

The problem:  they hear ‘blah, blah, blah’ and it doesn’t work.  You can almost bet the towel will be on the floor again tomorrow.

2. We don’t give enough notice

You’re at a party and the kids are having a great time.  Suddenly, your partner calls and says you need to pick them up so you pass the message on to your little person.  Instant tantie!

Alternatively, you might go somewhere that is NOT fun and expect some amazing behavior only to be MAJORLY disappointed. Doctors waiting room, visiting a hospital, attending school assembly… the pressure is on and we realise too late that we should have given the pep talk beforehand.

3. We don’t acknowledge how they feel

Often tantrums are the result of something we consider miniscule in the scheme of things.  The problem is it’s not miniscule to them and until we stop and consider the scale of hugeness this is for them it won’t stop.  Behaviour can’t improve until feelings are dealt with.

4. We are disconnected

Reality is that we are busy parents today.  Whether it’s our disconnection or theirs, we don’t often stop and really listen to what’s going on with our kids.  I know myself how addictive technology can be – when I’m reading a juicy article about ‘The Bachelor’ everything else drones into the background!  I’m imagining this also applies to my daughter’s ignorance when ‘My Little Pony’ is on TV.

All is not lost.  It gives me great pleasure to say to those parents who are bereft by their disobedient children, “hey, instead of saying that – try saying this” and have them come back the next week in excited bewilderment saying: “It worked!”

‘How to talk so kids will listen & listen so kids will talk’ is about building relationships with children as opposed to controlling them and dominating their spirits.

And it’s easy!  No long drawn out slides of theory or philosophy – just practical skills that can be used immediately regardless of gender, age, financial position or culture.

Kids can and will listen, they just need to receive the right words.

Key to Kids is now taking bookings for their next ‘How to talk so kids listen’ course, on Brisbane’s Bayside. 

The four-week course will run for consecutive Tuesdays in October, starting on the 4th October.  Visit Key to Kids and go to the ‘online bookings’ tab to secure your place. Megan Warren also offers this course to groups of eight or more at alternative venues. Just ask!

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