You don't have to be perfect to be the perfect parent!

Does your child have “selective hearing”?

Selective hearing?  Yep, every kid has it!

Selective hearing…every child has it, (some adults too!)  I can remember thinking one of my children in particular may have had a hearing deficit, but it only showed up sometimes!  Asking her to pick up her shoes resulted in a no response, but she could hear my husband and I whispering in private from upstairs!  Children often learn how to “tune out” certain conversations during the preschool and school age years, but there are a few things parents can try in order to help them switch their hearing to the “on” position!

1.  Don’t give too many details at once…or no details at all!

Kids can only pay attention to a few instructions at the same time, but if there are no details children may ignore your request because there is no specific instructions.  When you are asking your child to do something, keep it simple.  “Put the book away, go upstairs, put your p.j.s on, brush your teeth and crawl in bed.” will not work but neither will “Get ready for bed.”  Try breaking your instructions down into two parts.  “Put your book away it is time for bed.”  “Now let’s head upstairs to put your p.j.s on and brush your teeth!”  Dwelling on a topic for too long with lots of instructions will make your child “tune out” and giving no direction may result in your child either not taking you seriously or skipping important steps (like tooth brushing) in the process.

2.  Deliver the message with your eyes and hands!

Children “hear” you better if you engage more than just their ears.  In other words, make eye contact and use touch.  Face your child when you are speaking, maybe even getting down to his eye level (or up in my case now!)  and put your hand on his arm or shoulder when giving instructions.  This will help your child put his focus on what you are saying.

3.  Ask your child to repeat what you said.

Often children will say “O.K.” and have no idea what they just agreed to!  If you want to be sure your child has really heard what you said, ask him to repeat.  This will prevent the claim that he never heard you!

4Don’t get stuck on “replay”!

If you continually repeat the same instructions over and over with no consequences, kids get conditioned to the sound of your voice and realize that they may be able to wait to respond until the 5th request before you get serious.  Give instructions, if there is no response, repeat them with a consequence tagged on the end.   If there still is no response…the consequence must happen.  “Time to pick up the toys for dinner, please.”  No response…”If the toys are not picked up now, they will be put away for tomorrow.”  No response…the toys that are out are in “time out” for tomorrow.  If this happens consistently, then your child will learn to listen the first time.

If your child does respond on the first try…be sure to compliment the good listening he had!

5.  Make listening fun.

Try adding a few “fun” instructions in the mix.  “Time to head to bed, let’s leap frog to the stairs.”  Be a little goofy…put some fun in your life, add goofy instructions and get a laugh and a child who really concentrates on what you are saying.   Try listening to other sounds too.   Let your child “tune” their ears in by listening to music, birds on a walk, the crunching of leaves, the sound of water…point out other sounds in the world and develop your child’s listening skills.

6.  Try whispering.

Really?  Yes!  I found that sometimes the quieter I spoke, the more important my children thought the message was!  If you get good eye contact and speak softly…children have to stop and really listen.  My kids knew that if I was talking quietly, I was serious…and I usually got some results!

7.  Set a good example.

Think about it…how often do you give your child undivided listening?  How often do you simply respond, “In a minute” or “Maybe”.  How often are you on the computer or your phone when your child is trying to talk to you?  If you don’t show your child how to pay attention and truly listen, then your child may not see the importance or develop the skill.  Focus on communicating with your child…that means no texting as your child is trying to tell you about his day!  Make eye contact, respond to his words, and ask questions.  Your child will feel valued and will understand what it feels like to have someone engaged in their words if you take the time to really listen to him.

So try these tips for the “selective listener” in your house….hmmmm my kids are gone, but I may have a husband that this may work on too!  🙂  Happy listening!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.


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