Recently, I met one of my best friends who regularly reads my parenting articles. She suggested that I write an article on how to make stubborn kids listen to their parents.
She complained about her 4 year old´s stubborn tantrums. She said whatever she tries doesn’t work on her child and that she was really concerned as a parent. I asked her to give me an example.
She told me that it is getting increasingly worrying as a parent that her child wants to have her way always in a group. Her child creates a tantrum out of frustration every time to her embarrassment. She also said her child beats up other kids when they don´t listen to her.
I asked her if she spoke to her child to hear her side of the story. Sometimes, we assume that our child is at fault and we don’t try to understand why they behaved that way. Maybe, the group in question could also be at fault, at least partly.
Here is my personal learning on how to make a stubborn child listen to you-
1. Parenting is not just a role or responsibility: When we view parenting as a role or responsibility or motherhood as a duty to be fulfilled towards our children, it soon becomes a monotonous chore. Instead, when we view parenting as a relationship, then it becomes a joyous affair with our children. But remember that we have to strike that balance between being firm and gentle as parents.
2. Open Communication:
The husband returns tired from his office. His wife is eager to share all the details of the day with him. All he wants to do is have a quiet dinner, watching TV shows of his choice.
´Do you know that Mrs. Mishra went on a solo trip to…?´
´Can we talk in the morning?´
´But, you don´t have time in the morning and we have to rush to our offices?´
The wife gets the message and goes into her bedroom to do her own thing – surf the net, read some books, listen to some music or talk on the phone.
The husband feels slightly guilty but he needs his break from a hard day. The wife feels disappointed yet again but tries to understand his need for some space and break. If only he had more time for her, she sighed!
*How do you think the wife would react to the husband´s demands hereon? Wouldn´t there be irritation and pent-up emotions that will reflect in her behaviour towards him?*
The child rushes excitedly into her Mummy´s arms all eager to share the day´s events. All Mummy is thinking of is how to juggle making a snack, taking her child to the sports class, getting her on track with her assignments and exams, preparing her speech for elocution and attending that official Skype call in the evening.
´Dolly! We can talk later. First, go and change your dress, have your snack and let´s get going to the class soon.´
´But Mummy! You never listen to me. You are always busy for me.´
´Go and take a break now before we start our revision.´
The mother goes online to take a break herself.
´Mummy, do you know today in Social Studies class, the teacher asked this boy…..?’
‘Dolly! I have to check and attend to a few mails now. Can we talk later in the night?´
The daughter gets the message and quietly leaves the room. Only to get her dolls and other toys to set up shop close to Mommy and plays quietly next to her. The daughter is slightly disappointed that her mother has no time to listen to exciting story. Dolly knows that even she talks to Mummy when she is free, Mummy tends to tune out of the conversations after a few minutes. She wishes Mummy weren´t so busy all the time and had time to listen, talk and understand her. But for now, just being close to Mummy and playing with her dolls is good enough, if not great.
Mummy feels slightly guilty but she is physically and mentally exhausted and needs her break time as well.
*How do you think the child would react when her mother asks her to listen and obey her? Don´t you think subconsciously her mother has set the precedent that it is okay to ignore others´ feelings and requests? Don´t you think the child will resort to any attention seeking behaviour just to get attention?*
Let´s compare these two situations! In the first relationship between the husband and wife, both of them got stagnated in their respective roles without putting in any extra effort to maintain the spark or kick in their relationship. In the second relationship between the mother and her daughter, the mother is caught between her duties towards her home, family, profession and herself. Make no mistake, there is love but there is no effort to create time and effort into the relationship. The spouse and child are taken for granted. There is no fun, magic or kick anymore in the relationship even though there is love. But, love cannot survive on fresh air alone; it needs constant attention and care.
Dr. Joyce Diane Brothers, famed American psychologist rightly said ´It is listening and not imitation that is the sincerest form of flattery´.
We must always be there for our children – lending our ears and opening our minds and hearts to their perspectives as well without merely imposing ours.
When we listen to them in all honesty and sincerity and talk to them with love and respect, trust me they will also do the same. Look at this from another angle! When we don´t listen and understand our children, who else will? And do we want them to be confiding in the wrong kind of people and not us? If they cannot trust us to listen to them, why should we expect them to listen to us?
3. Have patience: This is time-tested advice. There cannot be an overnight change in our children or even us. For any change to happen, we have to give it time. Trust me, if we don´t give up on our children and really pay attention to them like we should as parents, there is no way that they will not change and listen to us.
On a concluding note, let´s all remember that our children are a mirror reflection of our behaviour. Do you have any more tips and suggestions on how to make a stubborn child listen to you willingly?