I was in a such a bad moodJul 06, 2021
I was really irritated a couple of days ago. I’d had a spat with my husband and I was feeling so annoyed with him.
It is a pretty rare couple that doesn’t argue but boy is it hard when you do, isn't it?
Anyway, where was I?
Oh yes. SO I was really preoccupied by this argument and Scarlett, my 18 year old, asked me to give her a lift.
I bet you've had that, when you are in a bad mood and a loved one asks you for something?
I didn't feel like being immediately helpful, so I told her that her room was a mess and she needed to tidy it first.
I asked her a couple of times, only to go back in and find her lying under the duvet on her ipad.
'Look, I've told you to tidy up your room. I'm fed up with this mess and why should I help you when you won't do what I ask....?'
She looked up and said ‘I really hate that tone of voice you use. It’s so awful, I just can’t listen to you’
Of course I wanted to justify myself and carry on with the same tone ‘Well, why should I be expected to give you a lift if you don’t do what I’ve asked? Why don’t you just tidy your room? I’m not a chauffeur you know….’
But I stopped and thought about what I teach parents:
‘Use the tone of voice that your kids want to listen to.’ 'And watch your body language too.'
I could almost see those frown lines on my own face. Not very appealing. 😠
I changed my tune and thanked her:
‘You know what. I’m preoccupied and feeling a bit aggravated. You are right. It isn’t a nice voice and I’m sorry. Let’s start over again. I can see you wanted some duvet time and I’d like you to tidy your room before I give you a lift. What could the solution be?’
She didn’t say much but she put the ipad down and started to pick up things from the sea of clothes on the floor.
We’ve got to be realistic. They rarely jump at the idea of tidying up.
But whether it is a tot or a teen, we have to stay firm and avoid doing things for them – which is likely to make us feel like a door mat and resentful.
So how do you go about this?
I’ve compiled a handy list of dos and don’ts to get kids to listen to us.
- When they are ignoring us, check in with ourselves and see where our own feelings are. Are we getting aggravated because we’ve got other worries on our mind? Are we expecting an instant ‘yes’ and getting annoyed it is a ‘no’. Do we think kids ‘should’ do what we ask, when we ask and straight away (unrealistic expectation that needs to be adjusted)
- If you are in a bad mood about something else, try to breathe or take a few minutes out before you engage with your kids.
- Is your child busy with something that they are enjoying doing and are annoyed to be interrupted? Or are they also in a bad mood about something in their life?
- Observe your own body language. Are your shoulders relaxed? Could you smile, even if you don't quite feel it? Could you breathe more slowly? Relax your eyes? Are your fists clenched or loose? – Kids are reading this all the time.
- Observe your tone of voice and ask yourself– 'would I want to listen to this? Do I sound like a nag? Do I sound like my mother or father? Could I add in a sprinkle of humour (not sarcasm)? Could I even resort to a funny song?'
- Think about what you say – ‘Hey, in a minute, I’m going to stop the TV and ask you to do something. You might not want to do it. I get that'. Then pause. Don’t fill in too many gaps. ‘OK. There’s a big puzzle down there and it is saying to me ‘PWEEEEEASE pick me up!’ – or use other phrases that have a smattering of humour or are straightforward and don’t add in any guilt.
- Use some ‘When you have… then you can/ I will…’ types of sentence constructions.
- Explain how you feel and own it:
'When you say ‘no, why should I?’, it makes me feel like it is 100% my job to look after your things, drop everything to do what you've asked. Actually it isn’t like that. It IS my job to teach you manners though.. So let's start with a polite request. Have a go at asking me nicely.'
Or as in my daughter's case "Hey darling. I'm happy to drive you to your friend's house. I know this feels like a low-priority to you but I need you to tidy up your room before we leave. How much longer do you want to watch your ipad? Shall I put a timer on and when it goes off you can get started?"
So that’s it...8 ways to get kids to listen to you. Let me know if that’s helpful and do share this blog with your friends.
For more top tips, download my FREE booklet How to get your child to listen using the G.R.E.A.T Method
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