Friday, September 2, 2011

Are you teaching your child to ignore you?

Many parents tell me how many times they have to repeat themselves before they can get their kids to do what they're asking. This is not healthy and could even be dangerous.

As parents, we are responsible to teach our child and keep him or her safe. We can do neither effectively if the child simply ignores us. So what can be done?

First, we must realize that our child may have a very different way of processing information. This means that we, as the parents, must find a more effective way to communicate.

Second, we should never have to repeat the same request or directive more than twice.

Our first communication should include getting the child's attention along with a clear, concise statement of the task using the communication style of the child. There should be a reasonable time frame to allow the child to transition to the new task (usually 2 minutes).

Our second communication should also include getting the child's attention, a clear restatement of the task AND the addition of the 'threat' of consequences. (Consequences, should be reasonable and appropriate.)

Finally, if the task is not begun and accomplished in the reasonable time frame, it is time to take the child and gently assist them in completing the task. At this point, the consequences must apply.

Obviously, this is just an overview. There are many variations and important subtleties to this method, including, getting to know and appreciating our child's natural communication style.

When implemented with consistency, this method should help reduce a pattern of not listening.

Oh, BTW, if you have a child who is a visually creative, outside-the-box, thinker, its almost never helpful to say, "Did you hear what I said?" or "Are you listening to me?" Try, instead to speak in short (15 second max) bursts, asking for one specific answer or task at a time, while using phrases like, "Is that clear to you?" or "Can you SEE what I'm saying?"

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