Children often have a tough time listening to their parents. This creates a tremendous amount of tension for parents (and children). It is important to know that kids aren’t being bad; they have perfectly good reasons for not “hearing” you.
One of the most important thing for parents to know about kids is this: Listening is difficult for children. Actually, listening is not easy for anyone, adults and children alike. Adults who have to sit in long meetings and lectures can commiserate. It takes a lot of concentration and energy to listen. Listening requires quiet and an ability to attend to your surroundings and to discern the important messages that are being conveyed.
Children who have been in school a whole day are at the receiving end of a lot of directions. They have been listening or trying to listen for many hours. When they come home they are tired. Often they are just trying to relax by being engaged in pretend play, reading, video games or TV. Many times they are so involved that they truly don’t hear their parents. More often then not, they just don’t have the wherewithal to listen.
What we perceive as non-compliant or strong-willed behavior can also just be a child struggling to listen. Children with auditory processing issues and other language disorders have a harder time than other children. Modifications to the home or classroom can improve their listening skills. Strategies like those listed here can help :
• Seat the child away from auditory and visual distractions to help maintain focus and attention.
• Structure the environment using a consistent routine.
• Before speaking, first gain the child’s attention and then give directions.
• Avoid asking the child to listen and write at the same time.
• Speak slowly and clearly by using words that make sequence clear such as “first,” “next,” and “finally.”
It is important to remember that children usually want to do the right thing. They need their parent’s love and, even more so, their approval. If children are not listening it is probably because they truly can’t.
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