My 12-year-old daughter has become very defiant. She refuses to do her homework or help out around the house and often screams at me. How can I get my daughter to listen to me and stop fighting with me?
Your daughter is testing you, and from what you have shared, she is winning.
There are times when parents need to go back to "square one." When you have some time alone, sit down and list your expectations for your daughter. Expectations could include doing chores around the house and using good social skills like asking for permission before making plans with friends. Another expectation could be calling to tell you where she is if she goes to a new place while she’s away from home.
Next, list privileges she can access by meeting your expectations. Privileges could be using the phone or computer, watching TV, playing video games or spending time with friends. If she does not meet your expectations, she will lose these privileges, perhaps one at a time. She cannot regain access to them until she demonstrates she can meet those very expectations that caused her to lose them.
If your daughter is behaving the way you described, she should have NO privileges until her behavior changes. If you feel this is something you can’t handle on your own, a professional counselor can help you implement this process in your home. Unless you take action now, your daughter’s behavior will most likely only get worse as she gets older.
I have a difficult time getting my 5-year-old son’s attention. He has a lot of energy and sometimes it seems like he can't hear me. But I've had his ears checked, so I know he can. How can I get him to listen to me?
Young boys are easily distracted by things around them and when they are focused on an activity that interests them, it’s difficult to get their attention. Removing distractions, getting on his level, being eye-to-eye and using a normal voice tone are the most basic things you can do to help your son develop listening skills.
We encourage parents to teach their children good listening skills by practicing these simple steps:
- Stop what you are doing.
- Look at the person who is talking.
- Ask questions if you don't understand.
Along with listening, teach your son to follow instructions by:
- Look at the person who is talking.
- Say, "Okay."
- Do what is asked immediately.
Teach these skills at a neutral time and give good reasons for why your son should use them the way you have described. Then practice often, keeping practices brief and fun with instructions like “Go get each of us a popsicle.”
Be consistent with your expectations and praise him when he listens and follows instructions.
I need help in three areas with my 4-year-old son. First, we need a better way to communicate. My son will not listen to me and treats me like I am his slave. I have turned into a yeller, and I don’t even want to be around him when he isn’t listening to me and is testing me. Second, he will not give up his sippy cup despite my changing cups and reminding him of the rules. He wants his milk all the time. Third, he is still wetting the bed at night and has to wear a pull-up. I think this is related to the sippy cup he likes to take with him to bed.
Much of parenting is trial and error. First, consult your pediatrician to determine if there are medical causes for any of your concerns. If it is behavioral, your pediatrician can inform you if it is age-appropriate or a reason for concern. Additionally, pediatricians have a wealth of experience, which makes them extremely useful referral sources.
All behaviors have some function. So determining what that is and what skill the child should learn will improve the situation. Your first issue is that your son will not listen to you. By not listening, he avoids doing what you are instructing and he is controlling you because he can make you lose your temper. Here are some useful tools for more effective communication with children of all ages:
- Talk face to face and look into each other’s eyes.
- Remove all distractions. Turn off electronic devices, put down toys and set aside the newspaper.
- Get on your child’s level.
- Use simple, clear words. Show and tell what you mean. Teach him good listening skills. At a neutral time, describe what you want him to do when someone talks to him. He needs to 1. Stop what he is doing and look at the person; 2. Stand or sit quietly; 3. Say “OK.” Give him a good “kid” reason for doing it that way. This reason will show him how listening benefits him. Have him practice by saying something in a normal tone while he pretends to be busy to see if he will stop, look at you and wait and say “OK” like you taught him. If he does, reinforce the behavior with a hug, high-five, etc.
Your second issue is the sippy cup. A pediatrician will likely recommend that milk only be given at meals that occur at a table. Introduce milk in a regular cup at the table for meals. In between meals, he can have water or diluted juice in a sippy cup. Drinking milk all the time is not good. It will fill him up so that he does not have room for healthy foods.
Your pediatrician can tell you the recommended amount of milk your son should consume. Begin immediately putting water in his sippy cup. This may curb his desire to have the cup all the time.
Your third issue is bed-wetting. Wearing a pull-up at age 4 is not unusual, especially for boys. They often sleep so soundly that they can’t wake up to use the bathroom. Decreasing his liquids after dinner will lessen the strain on his bladder. Give him a little drink of water prior to tucking him in at night. He does not need a drink in his room at night at this age.
I am a 32-year-old mother of four boys. I discipline by yelling and arguing, and I want to change this pattern. I just get frustrated when my children don’t listen and refuse to do their chores. How can I get my children to listen without resorting to yelling?
When you speak to your sons:
1. Get at their eye level so you can look into each other’s eyes.
2. Remove distractions by turning off the TV or electronic devices.
3. Be aware of your body language and tone of voice. Kids read meaning into them as much as the words you use.
Teach them the following listening skills. They will need to know these social skills throughout their lives. Social skills have behavioral steps, meaning that when your children use them, you will be able to see those behaviors and reinforce them or encourage them to use the ones they have left out.
LISTENING TO OTHERS
When someone is speaking, you should:
1. Look at the person who is talking.
2. Sit or stand quietly.
3. Wait until the person is finished talking. (Don’t interrupt; it will seem like you are being rude or are uninterested.)
4. Show that you understand. (Say “OK,” “Thanks” or “I see.” Ask the person to explain if you don’t understand.)
At a neutral time, remove distractions and teach your boys these skills. Describe what you want them to do (the steps above). Give them a good “kid reason” for doing it that way. A “kid reason” shows the benefit to them and not the adult. Have them practice what you have just taught them. Practice frequently, keep it brief and make it fun.
Give them reasons why listening is an important skill to learn. It shows that you are polite, pleasant and cooperative. It increases the chances that people will listen to you. Listening will also help you do the right thing since you are more likely to understand what the other person has said.
When you observe your sons using these skills or even some of them, reinforce them, praise them for using the skills and describe specifically what they did well. It may sound like this: “Way to go! You are using your listening skills. When Mommy started to talk, you stopped what you were doing and looked right at me. That’s great! Next time, remember to wait until I am finished talking before you ask a question or say OK.”
I am a 51-year-old parent with a 9-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy. My children have no focus. My wife and I often resort to yelling in order for our children to follow our instructions. We hate doing this. Though our children are spoiled, they do not get everything they want. But there is no urgency to do what we ask of them. What can we do?
Parenting is both rewarding and challenging. You are right on track when you mention that your children are spoiled. “Spoiled” does not necessarily mean getting everything that you want. When children whine, argue to get their way, do not take no for an answer or get several warnings or chances before they do a requested chore, they appear disrespectful or ungrateful, thus spoiled.
If they know Dad will repeat his request multiple times before the yelling starts or if they have not received immediate consequences in the past, they have learned to ignore adult directives.
You and your wife can turn your situation around with time and a consistent, concerted effort. First, you and your wife must agree on a parenting plan. Discipline is most effective when it comes from a united front, which means that you and your wife will be working together.
Discipline is not just delivering a punishment – it is teaching: 1. Teach them what behaviors you expect; 2. Model that behavior for them, even practicing with them; 3. Tell them the consequence of not abiding by that behavior; and 4. Offer either a reward or punishment appropriate for the behavior that they display.
Have a family meeting at which you state the new house rules. Given your children’s young ages, five minutes is long enough. Say something like this: “From now on when Mom and Dad call your name, this is what we want you to do: 1. Stop whatever you are doing. 2. Look directly at us and listen. 3. Repeat back what you need to do. 4. Go do it.”
Role-play a situation with them that is likely to occur in your house. If your son is playing a video game, for example, he will need to 1. Put the controller down. 2. Look at you and listen. 3. Say “You want me to turn the game off in two minutes.” 4. Stop the game in two minutes.
If your children know ahead of time that they will lose a privilege if they fail to follow your plan, you most likely will have success. But this won’t happen overnight. You must be consistent and patient. It took your children a long time to learn their poor listening skills. It will take a long time – a few months even – to unlearn them.
How do you get a 10-year-old to mind you? My son will not do chores, go to bed or do what he is told in general. He just responds, “No.”
At age 10, your son should be able to sit down with you and discuss the situation. Have this conversation with him when your family is not busy and everyone is calm and neutral. He will feel less defensive and thus, be likely to participate. Tell him what you are seeing and why you want him to change. Make certain you include things that he does well.
Point out how these changes will benefit him. For instance, say “When you do your chores, you will earn more free time and trust. I will be able to trust you to go to the park more often because I know you are following instructions and are being safe.”
He needs to learn to follow instructions. He is to follow your instructions to go to bed and do his chores, and he should answer you with “OK” and not “No.” Many times we tend to tell our children what NOT to do instead of telling them appropriate ways to respond. This includes saying “OK” instead of arguing when we tell them to do something.
Specific links on parenting.org regarding this skill and others are http://www.parenting.org/article/following-instructions, http://www.parenting.org/article/effective-praise-applaud-effort-not-just-outcome-0, http://www.parenting.org/article/listen-get-kids-listen and http://www.parenting.org/article/getting-kids-sleep-using-bedtime-routine.
He is going through a time in his life in which he will be looking toward his peers for approval rather than you for approval and positive reinforcement. Have you seen this? Are his friends becoming more important? This is a normal part of growing up. But try to make sure he is involved with a positive group of kids.
Involve him in sports and other organized activities. Typically, kids who are involved in these types of activities learn to respect other adults, are more motivated to be successful and feel more self-confident.
Also, try to point out all of the positive things he is doing. Studies show that children learn best when we say eight positive things for every correction or negative comment.
I am having an ongoing problem with my daughter that is driving me to the end of my rope. I have to ask her over and over again to do everything from shutting off the TV to picking up a book. She doesn’t ignore her teachers, only me. How do I get my daughter to respect me?
The fact that your daughter is able to listen and follow instructions at school proves that you should expect nothing less of her. Hold her to that expectation by being consistent until she realizes that you are not going to bend. Right now she knows that this very thing is upsetting to you, and therefore she is controlling you and your emotions. She is going to keep doing it until you regain control by showing her that it doesn't upset you and that the only person she is hurting is herself.
It sounds like you are having to work harder than she is, which is not the way it should be. Let's see if we can cut out some of the work for you and put it back on her. Here are some things we would like you to try:
- Get her attention and make eye contact before you begin speaking.
- Remove all other distractions (TVs, cell phones, gaming devices) before you give her an instruction.
- Deliver the instruction in simple steps.
- Ask her to repeat back to you what you want done.
- Ask her to perform the instruction.
The most important thing to remember is that if the instruction is not followed, you follow up with your daughter by issuing a consequence. The consequence needs to be implemented as immediately as possible. This means that after you have asked her once and the task is not completed, the consequence is delivered.
Since this is something that your daughter struggles with at home, it might do her some good to practice following instructions. This can be done by creating opportunities for her to show you how she follows instructions. It might also be helpful if you have her check back with you to ensure that she has completed the task. Make sure she receives lots of praise for practicing or any other time that she is able to follow instructions. Be consistent and you should see changes.
My 7-year-old acts like she cannot hear. The only time she does hear is when I yell. Her doctor conducted a hearing test and says her hearing is fine. What else can it be?
With children, we should always check out medical causes that may be contributing to the problem before we assume that it is a behavioral problem.
First, we recommend that you make a few simple adjustments to your communication techniques:
1. Remove any distractions such as TV, radio and video games that have her attention.
2. Get on your daughter’s level so you can have eye contact.
3. Monitor your voice tone and body language. Children pay more attention to those than the words we use.
Second, monitor your overall communication with her to make certain you are praising her for the good things she is doing four times more than you are correcting her. If your child hears criticism the majority of the time you communicate with her, she will learn to “tune out” what you are saying.
You can turn this around by consciously focusing on the positive things she is doing or has done. Sometimes this alone can be a miraculous cure for “hard-of-hearing” children.
How can I get my teenager to listen to me? How can I make him clean his room, pick up after himself and help out around the house?
Those are great questions! Unfortunately, we don’t have a simple answer, and there isn't just one thing we can tell you to do that will make your child listen. Without much information about your son or your situation, we cannot provide a lot of specifics. But we can give you some of our basic parenting strategies to try.
Use positive and negative consequences to change behaviors. Positive consequences (time with friends, for example) increase the chances of a behavior happening. Negative consequences (such as the loss of privileges) decrease the chances of a behavior happening.
When using consequences to change a behavior, keep these five things in mind. A consequence should be:
1. Important to the child
3. Appropriate in size
4. Relate to your child's behavior
5. Appropriate for your child's level of development
Use consequences to teach your child, not to punish him. When you issue a consequence, remind your son of the appropriate behavior that he is supposed to have. Even though you may have told him three times yesterday, remind him again today because he still does not have the appropriate behavior.
If you are already issuing consequences for your son's behavior and are not seeing changes, you might need to reevaluate the consequences. Consequences will change as your child changes. Sometimes as parents we have to be creative in order to keep our consequences effective.
My three year-old son has been violent since he was two weeks old. He is wild, hits others, uses bad words and does not listen. I am confused about how to help him. When he acts out, I get angry and hit him. Please help me.
When young children hit others it is usually a result of two causes. Either he does not yet have the verbal development to express his feelings and so he uses his hands instead of words to express it; or, he has seen others solve their feelings of frustration with "hitting" instead of words. When your son acts out, instead of hitting him, walk away, take a deep breath and calm down. Practice journaling, calling a friend or counting to calm yourself down so that you do not model violent behavior to him.
As parents we know that modeling is our most powerful teaching tool. When we have problems, if we use our words in a calm manner to solve them, we are demonstrating or showing our children how they should behave when faced with similar situations. If this has not been done, don't worry, it is not too late to teach him. Use three simple steps to teach this to him.
- Tell him hitting is not okay. Instead, show and tell him what he should do.
- Have him practice what you have shown and told him.
- Reward his practice, or show your approval.
These same three steps can be used to teach your son "listening skills." Do that by showing and telling him what he should do when someone speaks to him. Practice these new skills throughout the day. Get the whole family involved so everyone is modeling the skill appropriately.