Anyone who has kids knows that kids are just small bonkers versions of adults. They have their own individual wants, needs, likes, etc. when most parents are searching online for help getting their kids to listen, its likely at a breaking point. maybe its been a long day of repeating, whining, nagging, tantrums, and more.
believe me i feel you, ive been there more times than i can count, endlessly searching the internet for some magic solution that will get all of my kids to listen. listen i know its irrational, and honestly you do too. There is not one way to get your kids to listen. we read these parenting advice books written often times by adults who have had little interaction with children and who present what to do in and IDEAL world. one where kids are always eager to listen, to be instructed. a world where kids instantly drop their own desires to follow your well guided instructions. but lets be real, any parent knows that it is more than that. that the endless sleepless nights result in low patience for both kids and parents. that the SAME gosh darn instructions repeated day in and day out grind on your nerves. that the food we make bc its cheap and easy isnt what they want to eat and no amount of bribing seems to help. youre doing the best you can but youre starting to question your ability to parent and raise these young people.
youve gotten to a point where you look at them and instead of seeing the bright beautiful shining face of your child, you see a tiny terror. and its time for a time out. now this isnt going to go into the pro/con of spanking, timeouts, speaking logically to them. this right here is for YOU. YOU need a time out, you need to take a step back first and foremost and forget the obligations you have. your sole obligation is to LOVE this little person. the dishes can wait, the laundry will still be there, dinner might be a little icky tonight. its all fine. give you and your kiddo a break. its not going to solve the bigger issues BUT well get to that. look up right now, look at your kiddo, the tiny tornado ripping thru your house and patience, and see the newborn you held in your arms, see the fresh face of them sleeping peacefully in your arms when you brought them home, remember the joy of their first word, think on that for a moment.
done? ok next put down the phone, tablet, computer and walk over to give them a hug, tell them you love them, look them in the eye and tell them how much you love being their mommy (daddy)
done? ok so now that were all back in reality and feeling the love, lets go over a few things.
first of all kids are KIDS, theyre irrational, theyre impulsive, their ability to understand consequences is still developing, they are learning all of the things you already know how to do. so many times we try to treat and parent kids as if theyre simply mini adults. theyre not. plain and simple. they are mini humans but they lack the abilities to perceive much beyond the now. think about the expectations you have for your kids, are they realistic?
kids are basically endless tubes of energy and it can be directed but not controlled. have you provided the proper environment and outlets for their energy? or have you just put them in a room with a bunch of toys? Do you look around and see a room full of toys? is it a giant mess you hate to clean up? have you seen your kids actually play with the toys or just move them around. if youre like we were, we had so many toys of all kids all over, they were never really cleaned up. and the kids were always getting into trouble for doing other things but we never really saw any PLAYING with the toys. kids are extremely creative, inquisitive, and short sighted. we took the painful (for me) step of taking away their toys, the hundreds of dollars spent boxed up and put away in a closet. we told our families NO toys for gifts (greatgrandma didnt listen but shes old so eh). sounds super cruel right? well i for one was tired of tripping on and stepping on these toys. I felt as though they had no respect for the items they had, for the people who had lovingly gotten them for them, or appreciate the blessings they have when so many other kids have so little. I began to feel as if my kids were spoiled and ungrateful. BUT you know what happened? we got some inexpensive totes from walmart, filled them with different things, ( lincoln logs, mini animals and maps for the lincoln logs, paydoh, magnents, dominoes, building block, and other educational toys, musical instruments) we labeled them and stacked them in the cabinet. i didnt take everything away i just took away their ability to easily dump everything. we limited the toys they did have into a few options. And the first few days were hard they wanted everything out, but we told them since they didnt take care of their toys we couldnt trust them with them. we put the ball in their court, both to learn respect, and building trust. with fewer options the mess was less AND they really appreciated the toys they did have and would spend hours with one box. i fully intended to go thru the other tubs and organize those but honestly they haven’t even asked about them so probably going to get rid of them. anyways these smaller amounts of toys were much easier for young kids to help clean up, there was not any overwhelming amount of different options, simply lincoln logs thats it so they all get put in the box. this has given them the ability to take responsibility for their things. this small thing gave me the confidence to take further steps on getting the kids to listen
is obedience the goal?
i realized that the goal isnt strict obedience, bc i want them to know how to see something needs done and do it. if i simply tell them to put away their toys they may do it but will they have learned to put them away when theyre done? obviously i want my kids to do what theyre told the first time who doesnt? but i also want them to have the initiate to do it without EVER being asked. i got a book on accident at the beginning of the year, i ordered something off amazon and they sent the wrong thing, i tried to return it but they said to keep it. well its called 1.2.3 Magic, i think there is a parenting version but this was a story to read WITH the kids. basically i realized with this book that i never actually explained to my kids what i was counting for. like you need to do x 1. 2. im about to say 3… 3 then some kind of punishment. did you ever explain to them why you were doing it? seems obvious now but hindsight am i right? anyways when you first begin to read it you maybe thinking, but im not a yeller, im not either BUT the principle is the same, and if you are a yeller, its fine bc this will help. this book taught me RESPECT for my kids as well. it made me realize that they do have their own wants and are to be growing independent. that a safe set of options will promote growth, and honestly peace.
im going to say that this HELPED a lot BUT hey theyre still kids so what else to we do? well my husband and i are firm believers in natural consequences. within reason we encourage the kids to be adventurous, and push the limits (maybe why we but heads with listening) but sometimes you can tell a kid so many times not to do something bc x will happen, but until they do it and it happens they do not see the cause and effect. while it is hard to see the kids struggle, this also opens the door for discussing consequences and our unending love. that even when they make a mistake they can and should come to us to find a solution. these small things like dont leave your buddies outside bc they will get rained on, they leave them out and get rained on, then they are sad… we give them a hug, and ask why theyre upset, well buddy got wet, we ask why did buddy get wet? bc i left him outside, we then ask, what did you learn, and what can you do different next time. they will usually give a good idea but we also offer other good alternatives, another hug and move on. this is setting the groundwork (i hope) for bigger issues. rebellion is something i anticipate, and i want our kids to know that no matter what they can come to us and we will love them and find a solution. what we do with our kids at a young age is building the foundation of our relationships with them.
outsiding my wildlings
we also believe kids BELONG outside. if youre a millennial like us, you probably grew up outside only coming home with the street lights come on. how much confidence did you build to figure things out on your own? probably a lot. now ill probably get some dirty looks here, and usually do at the parks as well. BUT i do not ‘play’ with my kids at the park, i keep an eye on them, and we talk from time to time, however they spend a majority of the time running around climbing talking to other people, falling, getting dirty, and more. too many times have i been given a dirty look bc my kid (heaven forbid) wants to play with their kid. they literally tell my kids that their kids cant play bc they might get hurt. this kind of interaction make me sad for a number of reasons, first of all their child has lot the ability to interact with children of their own age, but also deprived them of learning their own limits. We encourage our children to take risks( within reason ) to see what they can do. too often we do not give kids enough credit. If you are one of those helicopter mommas, i get it, its not really your fault you feel this way, maybe your child is the surviving rainbow child and your overcautious. maybe its because youre an only child and your parents full attention has always been soley on you, and you know no different. or maybe its bc you feel lost and unsure about what to do with YOURSELF at the park, i mean the imagination and joy of the park kinda lost its hold on me about 11 years old. you could be an introvert and dont know how to talk to the other moms. momma thats fine, where here for you! part of parenting is learning from others, in our current society, we are so isolated from one another that even interacting with other people is hard. This is a tough gig and i try so hard to understand WHY others parent the way they do bc maybe theyre onto something i can use. or maybe it shows me WHY i firmly believe the way i do. at the very least it teaches me compassion for what others are going thru.
letting go is hard, and i think with respect to helicopter moms, with the isolation of our society, its hard to know what is ok. as you might know were homeschooling our kids, we are wildschoolers, with a fluid curriculum. im only going to address the wildschooling part here bc it ties in with natural consequences, and a child natural inquisitiveness. kids are naturally curious, and very adept at getting messy, so we use that to our benefit. as much as possible we are outside, we make a full effort to go OUT and explore, learning about the world around us. this not only opens the door for a love of nature, but learning, and exploring. as far as safety goes, i joined some local hiking groups on fb, online hike it baby, and local nature preserve. this allows us to go out locally but also have the comfort of not being alone in the woods. maybe im overcautious, but one small women alone in the woods with 4 kids under 6 seems sketchy. the added bonus of going with groups is it give both the kids an i the opportunity to interact and learn from one another. the kids get to meet and explore and learn from other kids their ages, from kids of ALL different backgrounds, while allowing us moms the same. If youre a helicopter momma this would be a good way to give your kid some freedom while being present, and meet some new moms. like i said im sure you have valid reasons for parenting that way BUT consider trying to give your kid a little freedom
this leads us into trusting the kids. one of the biggest impacts of being more free range parents is that they get the rough and tumble, the messy the dirty, the loud, out of their systems and are better preparred to actually listen and obey. when they see that we do trust them to make good decisions and not micro manage their actions, the instruction we do give is much more likely to be followed.
yelling, crying, and tantrums
do you have a kid who yells, cries, throws and giant tantrum on the regular? yea so do i. i feel for you and want you to know you are absolutely not alone. this is something they have learned, it is a way to gain attention. im sure youve heard it before but im going to say it again, good or bad attention is attention. have you ever stepped back and noticed WHEN theyre going at it? is it at dinner time? witching hour, is a real thing, it when youre trying to get dinner around, your attention is less on the kids, theyre TIRED from the day, theyre HUNGRY. it all spells disaster and its normal, just take a deep breath chug a large glass of cold water and look them in the eyes, ask if theyre hungry? yes tell them youre making it, ask if theyre tired? yes, maybe, say why dont we sit down with a blanket and watch a movie why momma cooks, then if that doesnt work realize this is normal and your patience is likely at the end anyways so just IGNORE it. really its the only option. it teaches them it wont get them what they want any faster.
BUT if youre like me the other time theyre acting bat shit crazy, is when im on my phone. they cannot yet verbalize their need for your attention in a way that you understand. you maybe doing something completely valid on your device, grocery shopping, birthday party planning, calling the doctor, doesnt matter bc thats not what they see. they have NO idea what youre doing other than not giving them the attention they need. i read a story one time about a mom who put down her phone for the day and instead kept a tally of all the times her kids looked at her, it was truly depressing the amount of times they looked to her but what she would have missed on her phone, multiply that by everyday/night youre with them. we have become addicted to these things and havent even noticed in and are now trying to figure out how to get our kids to behave bc of OUR addiction. Its horrible, im guilty as well so trust me youre NOT alone. we have become so deprived of interaction with the outside world that we go on these devices to feel connected not noticing that its really taking us away from the people we care about the most! GUILTY and as with any addiction we need to address is realize it is a problem then set a course of action to address it. for me it is trying to ONLY use my phone when kids nap, go to bed. I can order groceries after bed, i can fb ONE time aday, etc… it will be hard and hey lets call this an accountability thing. it takes 21 days to form a habit so starting today put down the device and only check it 2 times once at noon, once at bedtime. print out a habit tracker and hang it on the fridge. trust me its hard i will do it with you, bc i am failing along with you in this regard. once you put down the phone and see all of the times your kids look to you, give them a smile, youre going to feel a little unsure about what you need to do. like lost, organize the pantry.
is this a post about getting kids to listen or about helping ourselves? well lets be honest its not ALL the kids fault they dont listen right? if we cant fix ourselves how do we intend to teach the kids something?
follow this list of things to do when youre feeling like looking at your phone and you will see how much the kids want to be involved WITH you, its a great opportunity to teach them some of the things they will need growing up, and to build good habits at a young age instead of struggling like us mommas now
- clean the pantry
- go thru the cup cabinet, toss all the ones that you truly dont need, be ruthless
- deep clean the fridge, take it all apart and clean, toss old food
- dust (be honest when was the last time you fully dusted the house)
- write a nice letter to your significant other, your mom, MIL, etc, and MAIL to them, teach the kids the art of writing and mailing, bc bills suck but a nice letter or card really can make someone elses day
- clean the bathtub
- wash the windows
- go wipe down the cabinets, really they can get so gross
- play playdoh with the kids
- make a fort in the living room
- watch a movie (sit in) on blankets with pillows and buddies, and actually watch it
- read the kids a book, helpful hint find a book you can read several days, like little house on the prairie series, or check out ambleside online for your childs year, even if you do not homeschool these books are a great way to spend time with your kids
- write, begin a story, have you kids illustrate, maybe a book of your days.
- make cookies
- make a cake just because
- make cookies with cakemix
- make a smoothy
- find a recipe BOOK and have kids find one they want
- learn a new handicraft, these are GREAT for putting down that phone, crochet, embroidery, knitting, while if your kids are not old enough i do encourage you to have a craft for them to do as well maybe playdoh, or clay
- one of my favorite with the kids is art class, if youre not into messes, try to embrace it, im not talking glitter people, but rock painting, oil pastels are close to mess free( grab a magazine and have everyone color a page)
- color in the coloring books with your kids.
- fold the laundry
- wash the bed sheets
- fill a trash bag with things from the house you dont need.
- the list is really endless but you get my point, we can accomplish so much more meaningful things in a day with our kids if we just break our own addiction
you will find that the more time off the device you spend being with your kids doing something, the calmer and better reactions YOU will have to them.
NO NO NO
basically my point here is that as much as we want our kids to obey us we need to take a step back and see that they are not solely responsible for it. we need to help them by helping ourselves. EVEN if you are NOT religious i highly encourage joining a local church. i know you may be strictly atheist, but hear me out. im not saying join a sunday service, find a wednesday night group meeting, these can be parenting classe, marriage classes, even bible study. find a place that has dinner before. make some friends, allow your kids to make some friends. these places are great for teaching kids obedience. and like i said even if youre not religious there is something to be learned from the bible stories and words written. you may thing its controlling but if you step back and see it just as a tool to morals, you will find somethings you can implement in your lives. my husband has been the biggest impact here for me, he was raised native american, and if you dont know anything about their belief system, know this its fluid, they take what works and what they like, and leave the rest. i was raised christian and never felt at home but once i met him and we talked about this i realized that there is so much i can learn from the bible. that i dont have to take it in a condemning tone. i have actually grown in my Christianity and faith bc of this way of looking at it. so dont poo poo me or this part in any case if youre so bad off it cant really hurt right and if it works well then mores the better.
we all are trying to do the absolute best for our kids and want them to be fully functioning compassionate strong adults, consider what it will take for them to reach that and instead of trying to ‘beat'(not physically only metaphorically) it out of them help them harness those attributes. I want my daughter to stand up for herself so why would i punish her for standing up to me? (within reason come on) im no expert but i do have kids and have tried so many things under the sun. if you have something you swear by that i didnt mention please comment and ill try to address in a following post. thanks for reading.