Is my child deaf?
“My child doesn’t listen” is the most common complaint I’m hearing during my fall parenting skills workshops. One parent described it brilliantly when she said, “It’s like I’m not even here. I’m invisible.”
The good news is that this situation can be changed. You can restore your child’s hearing abilities.
The bad news? Mom and Dad have trained the child to be parent-deaf. As with many discipline issues, the problem is the parent. Trust me, I’ve been the guilty party a hundred times and had to change MY behavior. Then the kids change. As you know, we cannot change them. We can only change ourselves.
Here’s the roadmap on how to eliminate parent-deafness.
1. Start with awareness and determine what is most important. Notice I didn’t say, “Choose your battles.” This sets the stage for power struggles. They are ugly, trust me, I’ve been in enough of them.
2. When you say something to your child, get his attention. Look him in the eye. Say it once. Do not repeat it. Make sure what you are saying is worth following up on. If he doesn’t respond, ask, “Did you hear what I said?”
If he says “What?” to everything you say, he might have the “what disease.” Then you need a pretend vaccination against it. Give it to him, right in the arm, with humor. Say “I’m vaccinating you against the ‘what disease.’” From then on, whenever he says “What?” say, “I think you heard me.” or “What do you think I said?” or ask, ”Do the vaccination wear off? Do you need a booster?” Then grab him close, laughing, and give him another what-disease shot in the arm.
3. If your child has heard you and chooses not to respond, you must ACT not YAK. (Thanks to Dr. Sam Goldstein for the brilliant Act Don’t Yak.) Do not repeat what you said unless you want to continue to train her to ignore what you say.
Can you see how it is imperative to follow through immediately by acting? Make sure you are kind, firm and immediate. You will have to get up, interrupt what you’re doing and prove you mean business.
Here are some examples.
1. “Pick up your toys.” If you have kids under 24 years old, get used to picking up. The younger they are, the more you will have to act by picking up with them. Endless picking up is a fact of raising kids. It is not fair. Get rid of some toys or rotate bags of toys to the attic. Yakking, “Clean up your room” is like saying to you, “Go clean up K-Mart.” Where do you start?
2. “Go brush your teeth and get ready for bed.” Most normal children will ignore this. You must ACT and do it with them. Establish a bedtime routine where you are with them every step of the way, which also insures they will stay in bed.
3. “Get ready for school!” You can only take preventative action on this one by preparing a plan. Talk about the morning routine at a family meeting. Read my free e-book “Are you ready yet?” After educating them on how to take responsibility in the morning for getting ready on time, have an ACTion plan. Have your little diva choose her clothes the night before. Be ready to go out to the car with her clothes in a bag if she is not ready at the agreed upon time. She will inevitably choose the coldest wettest day of the year to test your resolve.
Parenting is not for the faint-hearted. Parent-deafness can be deadly. Start with awareness and begin the new training today. Allow three weeks to three months to develop a new habit. You can do it.