Getting Your Kids to Listen: Pro Tips from an Expert

If I got a dollar for every time I said:

“Thank you for politely listening right away!”

I’d start saying it all the time.

Not because it was true, but because it would be nice to be a salaried parent. And I’d be saying something that–when true–probably makes you feel like a really amazing mom.

Professional parenting. Boom.

baby listening

Big reveal:

I am actually a professional at asking my kids six times, using the tonal pattern:

1. so nice, so polite / 2. nice, polite / 3. pretty nice, drop polite / 4. edgy, but sane / 5. threatening loss of privileges with moderate loss of perspective / 6. yelling in that voice I promised I would never use.

That last one is the one that usually works, but I never jump straight to step 6; I am a true professional, and I stick to the system.

Ella currently is in a one-week camp at an MMA studio (which was my idea, you might have guessed; I was hoping it was ‘make you listen and be somewhat coordinated’ boot camp for small people). She described one of her teachers as “less chance-y” than me. Apparently, whereas I give lots and lots of chances to listen before I dole out punishment, Ms. Sarah asks once and then you’re sitting on your knees facing the wall.

Props, Ms. Sarah. Come over anytime–I’ve got a kids’ chore list and a dollar with your name on it.

7 thoughts on “Getting Your Kids to Listen: Pro Tips from an Expert”

    1. I know! I wouldn’t listen to it because it’d probably make me feel inferior and I still don’t have a good podcast app (Read:I just like pop songs), but it’s a great idea overall. 🙂 thanks for reading!

  1. I applaud you for being a parent this long and never having to take it to the seventh degree…crying. I find that supremely effective, but it must be used sparingly or it will lose its potency. Of course, if it gets overused, there’s always step 8 (cussing) and that can really be several steps depending on how far you take the words. There are, of course, several levels within cussing.

    1. This whole thing makes me giggle. And those are definitely two levels I forgot to list but have escalated to myself. Currently, rather that several levels of cussing, I have just been working them in as supplements to my levels 1-6. I am going to have to parse it out, though, and see if it works better: level 8–compelling requests from the sailor.

  2. Occasionally when I get tired of approach #6, I implement another level–I whisper. Before you think my kids can hear me whisper, let me explain–I go stand close to them, get in their face and whisper truly frightening things with a smile. Like “if I don’t see you starting your before-dinner job in about 10 seconds I will bite off each of your toes.” It freaks them out and makes them laugh (nervously) and they get in gear. Usually. It pretty much tops any insanity element in level 6. The plus side is that I don’t feel as bad as I do after yelling, and it reigns in my rampant wrath. The down side is that I can never follow through, and the kids know it, which probably qualifies as abysmal parenting. Whatevs. BTW, I have totally, out-loud blamed my kids for level 6. “If you would do what I asked when I ask nicely,” I bellow, “I wouldn’t have to yell. You are TEACHING me to yell.” Which seems simultaneously backwards and profoundly true. Ah, to be a professional parent. . .

    1. I think making ridiculous threats you don’t intend to keep is excellent parenting. I mean, I do it too, and I could perhaps be a professional… so it must be good. My favorite is “do x RIGHTNOW or I will tear off your arms (exchange mischievous smiles).”

      They know I don’t mean it, and I know I don’t mean it, so I don’t have to try so hard to make sure I can “follow through on promised punishments.” But everyone involved knows I am a little crazy, and that is enough to get the toys back in their boxes.

      Perhaps we can co-write a book with tips, Ms. Julia? 🙂

  3. Awesome. I would definitely be up for a book with that kind of advice. We could call it “How to Make Your Kids Wonder if They Are Emotionally Scarred,” or something juicy like that. Because, if they have to wonder, you’re doing pretty well as a parent, I think.

    Just saw this: http://lemonlimeadventures.com/1-simple-tip-help-stop-yelling/
    which is wise and helpful. Maybe I’ll try speaking in a “kind and respectful tone” instead of a whisper next time I suggest I might bite their ears off if they don’t use them to listen to me. 😉

Talk to me. Seriously. Mostly in the form of compliments.