Do you ever feel like no matter what you do your kids just won’t listen? I had days like that as a teacher. They were soooo frustrating. You’re trying to get things done, get your kids out the door with all their things, finish one full task, or the kids are arguing and just not listening. First of all, you’re not alone. Second, I have a solution!
Through two simple steps you can have better listeners. Whenever I had those exceptionally frustrating (and annoying) days, I’d always pause and reflect. I looked for places where I could change, because that’s the thing I can control. I noticed that through all the chaos I was pushing us along and wasn’t giving them a chance to give me their full attention. I’d give instructions when I had half of their attention because it felt like I wouldn’t be able to get their full attention, we were running out of time, etc. etc. SO… here’s the first step:
ONE: Ensure you have their full attention.
This may sound obvious, but when you think about it you may realize you haven’t been doing this (like me!). What does that look like? Tell them:
“I’m giving instructions, and it’s important that you hear them. Show me with your body that you’re ready to listen. That looks like: body still (i.e. no jumping or running around), mouth closed (i.e. no talking), hands free (i.e. nothing distracting in them), and eyes on me.
This tells them to get ready to listen and tells exactly what you expect them to do to show that they’re listening. Talking them through what that looks like also gives them a chance to bring their bodies and minds into this calmer, more focused state. Then they’re ready to hear what you have to say in step two!
TWO: Give crystal clear, concise instructions
Again, seems obvious, but when you reflect you might be able to see where you can be even more clear and concise. Keep in mind that kids are very literal. Sometimes painfully literal. So, when you’re wording your instructions give specifics:
- Use body parts and objects:
- “Put your shoes on. That means your shoes go on your feet.”
- “Get your backpack. That means your backpack goes on your back.”
- “Grab your lunchbox. That means your lunchbox stays in your hands.”
- Use order:
- First, we will get ready to go
- Then, we will get into the car
- Lastly, we will arrive at school
Eventually, your kids will know so well what your expectations are that you won’t have to say the full sentences anymore. You’ll only have to say “Get ready to go!” and they’ll do all three of the things in that routine. But while listening is a struggle, use the Wait for attention + Clear, Concise instructions format. If you feel like you’re being too literal and blunt, you’re not. That probably means you’re nailing the verbiage I’m recommending!
While we’re on the topic of carefully selecting words, you might like my freebie “Say This Not That” — it’s a list of 15 word swaps that you can save to your phone or print out and put where you’ll see them. It takes the guesswork and the thinking out of your head and makes it easy for you. You can get it here. (reminder — it’s free!)
Alright friends, that’s it for this one. You’re ready to go give this little step a try!
Please reach out to me when you have questions, recommendations or successes!