Tag Archives: Unconditional Love

How To Get My Kids To Listen?!!

The most precious gift you’ve ever received is… your child. Along with this priceless gift, you’ve also received your most all-encompassing task of raising your child.

Of course, establishing proper discipline is easier said than done. In fact, the most common question asked by parents is “HOW DO I GET MY KIDS TO LISTEN?!” However, there is no “one quick-fix solution,” because so many puzzle pieces must fall into place in order for a home’s harmony to resonate. Presuming that the initial foundations of peace, unconditional love, acceptance and communication are in place, we will now explore several discipline techniques which will help us restore respect and discipline in the household.

Before we start with practical pointers, we must have a proper perspective on commanding respect. We must realize that this is not about us; it’s about them. It’s not that we need the honor of having our children speak respectfully at the dinner table. Rather, our children need this training because we want to mold the child into the perfect person we want him to become. So giving in and forgoing this respect is not a service, but rather a disservice, to the child, for we are denying him the opportunity to grow and develop properly.

One component of respect is listening to one’s parents. Therefore, we are obligated to insist on compliance.

Practically speaking, this training is best started when children are young and impressionable. It is then that you can physically “help them” to listen by taking their hand and directing them to do the required action or go to where they have to be.

When giving commands, use a firm, self-assured voice. Even young children detect when you are hesitant or unconfident. Avoid threats, warnings, and ultimatums as they undermine your authority. You can use the “broken record technique” (repeat your command in a calm, firm manner over and over until the child complies) or “when-then technique,” (When you clean up your room, you can go outside to play” instead of “if” which gives wiggling room for non-compliance.) If your child needs to have some power, give him choices and time frames, (“Please make sure the table is cleared before dinner” instead of “DO IT NOW!!!”) Whichever method you may choose to use, do not accept “no” for an answer. This is imperative, because early training sets the stage for respect for all authority throughout life.

Once children are a little older, it is the parent’s choice to be smart and selective when giving commands, demanding only that which the child is capable of fulfilling. For example, asking for something while a child is in middle of playing, or in a tired, cranky mood is setting him up for failure. Think before commanding and do not teach your child disobedience!

Try to set up routines, so that you can preempt tricky situation. When a child knows what is expected of him and is aware of the consequences if the routine is not followed, he is quicker to comply and accepts the consequence.

When you are in a situation over which you have no influence, do not exert your power, because you are embarking on a losing battle. At best, you will win while compromising your values by yelling, threatening, punishing, etc.

Remember that you too can press the pause button. Model proper behavior by thinking before you act. Use impulse control and ask yourself, “Is this the proper request at the proper time? Am I realistic that I can influence this situation? What is the best way to ask my child and set him up for success?”

In summary, start when your children are young by confidently training them to listen. As your children grow older, continue to guide them with firmness and love. Think before commanding and set up routines to avoid confrontation. Most importantly, spend time planning smart solutions at calm times, so you will know how to handle the real-life scenarios.


Know The Power Of No

downloadIt’s a small word that requires great conviction. It’s a short word with a lifelong lasting impact. It’s a negative that achieves much positive. It’s the power of NO.

In today’s permissive society, it’s YES that’s the ruling force of the day. Parenting books and articles are replete with philosophies, expounding on the importance of understanding your child and showing him endless love. This is crucial, of course. Yet, when parents take these philosophies too far, the result can be a spoiled, undisciplined child, who has never heard a NO and can, therefore, never appreciate a YES.

Of course, we like to say YES, because we love our kids and we love to give. We think that when we’ll say YES, we’ll have happy kids. Yet, if we never say NO, we’re making a big mistake.

Firstly, children can have many pals; they only have one set of parents. If the parent is not an authority figure and becomes an equal, the child is missing someone vital for whom there is no substitute.

In addition, children need and want boundaries. It makes them feel safe and protected. It even makes them feel loved and cared for.

Finally, from time to time, every person encounters a NO. There are inevitable scenarios that do crop up in life and demand acceptance.  A person who has rarely heard the word NO will find it very difficult to deal with a NO in adulthood.  NO is integral for healthy development.

Saying NO sometimes expresses even more love than YES, because it connotes, “ I’ve thought this through and I’m not answering YES off the cuff. I care too much to allow you to do this.” When we have internalized this concept, then we can assert our parental power without feeling guilty or mean. Then, when we say NO in a loving way, our children can feel secure, knowing there’s a family hierarchy and parental boundaries.

If we are using enough unconditional love, positive reinforcement and creating a generally positive atmosphere in our homes, we needn’t be afraid of saying NO.


There are two golden rules. Before saying NO, stop and think.  And once you’ve said no, stick to it.

It’s important to say NO to things that pose a moral or physical danger to a child. Of course, an elastic stretched too far will jump back. If we impose too many restrictions on our children, in the worst case scenario, they will rebel; in the best case scenario, our NO will lose its effectiveness, because we will not be able to carry it through.

In general, once we’ve decided to say NO, we must stick to it. Children naturally try to test our word. Once they learn that we can be swayed, we’ve taught them that they can manipulate us. The NO must be non-negotiable.

Yet, bear in mind that there can be circumstances, which require us to reconsider. Usually, these situations occur when we are presented with a new piece of information that we did not know when we made our decision. Then, it is acceptable for a mother to tell her child, “I thought it over and, in light of my new perspective, I’ve decided that…” Flexibility is a healthy thing for our children to see and a lesson in itself-if it happens infrequently enough.

Sometimes, it is difficult for our child to swallow the NO. We can empathize. “I know you really wanted a new briefcase.” We can even active listen. “I see you really wanted to…” But, we cannot exchange our parental power with active listening or empathy. At the end of the day, we have to pull the strings and make the decisions. So, you can soothe your tantruming two-year-old, you can give a cheer-up supper for your sulking teenager and you can empathize with your complaining school girl. But, you still must be firm. “I know how hard this is for you, but still…”

We mentioned earlier that if our children hear NO too often, they’ll become immune to it. At times, you may wish to choose to say NO without using the word. Giving a different alternative very often avoids conflict.

  • You can explain to your four-year-old, “You may have a freeze pop-after supper”.
  • Or when you don’t want your daughter to join a sleepover, you can offer, “You can invite your cousin to sleep in our house tonight.” Which is really saying, “I’ll let you have it MY way!”
  • Or “Yes, I’d love to drive you to the store.  On Sunday I’ll have more time.”

Another way to make NO more palatable is to add a logical explanation. For some children the “because” helps them comply. However, we still must beware that even if our children pester and question the reasoning, our decision will still be enforced. Don’t fall into the bargaining trap.

It is also important that there be times that our children hear an unequivocal, resounding, “NO. Because Mommy said so.” This reinforces the parent’s power as the authority in the house and sends vital messages to the child.

Let us realize that NO is a tremendous favor for our children. When we feel confident with our decision, our children will feel it and respect it.

So, what should you know about no? It’s important. It’s love. And it’s something you could, should and must do!

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