You're in the middle of your favorite show and your partner comes over and says,
'Okay, we gotta go! Time to put your shoes on!'
What's your response?
'Can't you see?! I'm busy! We can't just up and leave!'
This is how your children feel when you ask them to do something.
The truth is, your child has a lot on their mind. They're busy playing, exploring the world and creating the next new invention that will make them famous!
It doesn't seem like it though, right? They don't have a worry in the world! But it's true!
Your child's job is to explore the world, learn and develop skills they will use for the rest of their life. Big responsibility!
That's why it's so hard for your children to listen to you sometimes. Especially during play, the place where children learn and grow the most, chances are, it's going to be hard for your child to stop and listen to do something they don't want to do.
So, how do you get your children to listen?
1. Connect First
When taking your child away from play especially, it's important to connect with them over what they are playing. When in play, children are naturally connected to themselves.
Get down on your child's level. If they're a toddler, get down on your knees and make eye contact with them. Open the conversation by connecting through connecting over what the child is doing/playing. Say something like, "Wow, the painting you are making is beautiful!' which opens them up to connect with you.
Wait until they make eye contact and are fully present with you and say,
'Can I tell you something? We have to go to the store now. Can we come play when we get back?'
Would you rather here the above or
"Come on Stella, time to get your shoes on! We are going to the store now!'
Does anyone actually want to be told what to do?
'Get your shoes on.'
'Go to the bathroom.'
'Stay on track.'
To me, this sounds like a bunch of commands that I don't want to listen to!
Almost 100% of the time, your child will resist your demands and commands. It just naturally creates resistance to the freedom that children WANT to feel.
How would it feel for you to be told what to do all the time?
3. Don't Say it Again
If you find yourself repeating a lot, chances are you're missing the connection step.
Children are naturally respectful and understanding of their caregivers wishes. Children feel a natural loyalty, giving-ness and will to do good for their caregivers when they are connected to you. So when you are repeating yourself, chances are you missed the first step. Go back and try again :)
4. Find Routines
Finding routines for things that need to be done are key for getting kids to listen. When we play outside, we wash our hands. When we use the bathroom, we wash our hands. When we have a booger, we use a tissue. Clearly my mind is on hygiene!
Setting up consistent routines for the 'non-negotiable' (non-negotiable: things that kids don't have choice in-safety, cleanliness, appropriate displays of emotions) is so important when it comes to getting kids to do the things they have to do and therefore teaching them the importance of the SKILLS they have to learn (like appropriately getting a booger from their nostril)
5. Choose Your Battles
I know, it's so hard to let go of things sometimes, especially when you like to be in control! But one of the things you signed up for when having a child is having things be messy. Because naturally, children are messy.
So if you're asking your toddler to keep the white floor clean while eating spaghetti, maybe its less about the spaghetti and more about the floor :)