Connection is key
I drew myself back from the brink of dishing out yet another consequence after I realised that my daughter was not driving me crazy on purpose.
I made the mistake of thinking that the love I felt for my daughter was the same as meeting her need for connection. When I started to spend my time and energy meeting my daughter’s needs, I easily brought out the best in my daughter.
No child wants to be acting out. When our child’s needs are not met, they will go create an action to meet them – often times in ways we don’t like!
How to deal with your child not listening? – Sidestep the power struggle
A lot of unwanted behaviour evolves from one thing: feeling powerless.
And misbehaviour from feeling powerlessness, regularly shows up when children feel like they have very little control over what is happening, or they themselves feel controlled, or they feel like their loved ones don’t see the best in them.
To make up for feeling powerless, children demand, control, tantrum or simply refuse to comply.
It takes two to have power struggle and when you refuse to pick up the other end of the rope, you’ll begin to see dramatic changes.
Of course, as parents we all want to see the type behaviour that we like. We want our kids to listen to us willingly, without having us needing to resort to punishments, threats or reward charts. Language of Listening’s CAN DOs helps your child find healthy ways to meet their needs and manage their own behaviour within your boundaries. .
Within the Language of Listening® framework, when you see something you DON’T LIKE, you offer a CAN DO. Can Do’s (within your boundary) help you gain willing cooperation and help your child gain problem- solving skills.
CAN DOs that work.
When your child isn’t listening it often looks like someone has to win and someone has to lose. It’s easy to get stuck trying to control your child. No one likes dishing out threats, banning iPads or cancelling playdates… or countless other things we do to get our kids to listen and do what we ask. Our kids feel like we are against them, and then we’re stuck on this endless power struggle. No wonder they stop listening!
CAN DOs are a completely different way to get your and your child’s needs met.
You CAN have your boundaries. In fact, you can have exactly the SAME boundaries AND support your child to meet them.
I once asked my daughter if she was ready for a bath. “NOoooooo” she replied.
I was feeling challenged and ready for battle.
But I paused and used the first step in Language of Listening framework, Say What You See® the step of connection, understanding and validation.
“You want to keep on playing, you’re having fun, you don’t want to stop playing and get all wet.”
I then followed up with an all-purpose CAN DO statement. “There must be something you CAN DO to have fun and go for a bath?”
And my daughter replied, “Yes! You race me to the bath, and I’ll pretend to be a lion and scare you! ROARRRRR”
I started to see that my daughter’s “No” was only my daughter expressing her wants. She wasn’t being defiant or trying to boss me around. She wanted to know that what she wants mattered to me.
By supporting my daughter to get her needs met within my boundary I sent her the message “I care what you want, I am not going to overpower you and I’m not going to change my boundary either.”
A simple way to connect.
Let your child know that what they like and what they want also matters to you.
By using Say What You See® you literally say out loud by describing what your child is doing as if you’re a sports caster giving a running commentary.
When you make sure that it becomes part of your normal everyday communication, not only will it become easier for you use, you’ll notice your child will start willingly listening and complying to your wants and wishes.
“You’re lining up all your trucks, you know just how you like them.”
“Your teddies are all sitting up waiting for tea, you love looking after them, what a good friend you are.”
“You’re spinning round and round, that looks like fun.”
You’ll feel utterly silly doing this until you notice your child’s reactions. They stand taller, their eyes light up and they feel so seen, valued and loved.
At the end of the day if your child doesn’t feel loved, understood or that what they want matters, then they won’t care a hoot about what’s important to you.
So, when we connect with our children emotionally and in a loving way, we will get the willing cooperation we’re after.