How do we get our kids to listen to us? What I have noticed, especially lately with my own twins, is realizing what their formula is. We can really figure out what their formula is when we get really present and listen. There are times that I, too, don’t see my own blind spots. I make decisions about whether to correct my child or raise my voice, and what’s great is that my husband definitely helps me see my blind spots.
The other day, he came to me and said, “You know what? I really can appreciate why you’re trying to teach our daughter to appreciate herself and to pick the right friends that light her up. But, the way that you’re going about it probably isn’t the best way because I think that it’s hurting her feelings.” It was hard for me to hear that, and I heard it, so after that conversation, I had the conversation with my daughter after she got home from school. I asked her what she heard about what I said last night. She told me, “These people’s standards are here because of this, this, and this, and my standards are here because of this, this, and this.” I said, “Did it make sense?” and she said yes. And I said, “If I could have said it in a different way, how would I have said that? Her tonality changed, the communication changed, and I asked her, “If I said it that way, would you hear me?” and she said yes. I said, “Would it hurt your feelings?” and she said no.
First of all, taking ownership and realizing that we can be passionate and want something so much for our kids, especially because of our own past experiences. If it comes across as blaming or shaming, that’s not my intent. When people say, “Do you walk the walk? Do you walk your talk?” I will say this: “Yes, I’m not perfect. I still have areas that I’m working on.” I am also reminded to use them, and they work. Our children get to hear us, and our children get to make better choices when we’re able to have a discussion in ways that they’re going to receive. It’s understanding what their formula is. Just because we think that they’ll listen if we elevate our voice, or some kids might want you to write things down, write it in a note for them. Some kids might want you to play a game with them and really get them engaged in your presence, being with them and then having a discussion.
So the tip I have for you today is to be present with your children and ask them, “If I were going to say this in a different way or if you were going to receive this in a different way, or if I wanted to explain something to you without hurting your feelings, how would I do that? What would that look like to you?” Let’s start figuring out what their formula is, and they will start to listen more. They will start to understand what you’re saying more. Not only is it giving us an opportunity to bond more with our children, it’s also giving them an opportunity to realize that everybody receives things differently and they’re worth it. They are worth us asking them, How do you want to receive this information? What would it take for you to understand what I’m saying, receive it, and take action on it?
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