Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Helping Your Child Follow Rules (Without You Busting A Vocal Chord)

HELP your child follow rules

I've written several times about how my family discusses and comes up with rules and contracts that we ask everyone to follow and sign (read here about family rules and here for the rules regarding a sport)  - family). Having family rules helps us function in several ways including:
  • Serving as tangible reminders of how we choose to live since the rules get printed out and posted on the refrigerator.
  • There are set repercussions to breaking them which all can see.
  • They pertain to everyone, even adults, so the kids know that they're fair.
  • The kids are asked to sign off on them so there's no doubt that everyone agreed.
  • It makes parenting easier, since behavioral parameters and repercussions have been set by the family unit as a whole (meaning, I don't have to come up with them on the fly).
But how do you get kids to listen and follow those rules, even though they've signed off on them? Here are some guidelines that actually work:

  1. Build in plenty of transition time. Remember when your kids were younger and you needed to give them time to move from one activity to another? I'd forgotten, since Lily is 9, that it's still important to allow them time to switch gears. That means no giving a 2-minute warning when you're frantically trying to leave the house.

  2. Get in their face and make eye contact. Yelling from upstairs or another room is just background noise and they can't follow what they can't hear. Yelling just gets me worked up and she can't hear me or isn't focusing on me anyway. If I get in there, make eye contact (pausing the television if I have to) and maybe gently put my hand on her shoulder while giving her a 5-minute warning, it's far more effective. Oh, and stick to the 5 minutes, perhaps setting a timer, so the child takes the warning seriously.

  3. Use as few words as possible. When you say, “Sweetie, we have to go pick up your brother in 15 minutes from preschool because it's over and he'll be crying...” all they hear is “blah, blah, blah, brother, blah, blah, blah.” There are too many words for them to focus on. Keep it brief: “Leaving – 5 minutes.”

  4. Acknowledge, as they're leaving whatever they were engrossed in, that the transition is hard so they feel heard. “Sure, that's a great show and I know you'd like to continue watching it. But right now we need to...” No one wants to obey a drill Sargent.  Empathy builds connections and makes them want to listen and follow your directions. If they push back, keep your voice calm (I recently discovered that this drives them CRAZY but it's effective because they have to lower their voice in order to listen to you).  Keeping my voice low also keeps me calm.

  5. Create consequences for not following instructions (these can spelled out in the Family Rules). “If we don't go to the dentist now, I can't allow you to have any computer time later – it's your choice” let's the kid know exactly what will happen if they don't comply.  You're not threatening, but simply stating the repercussion of their action.  And remember to follow-through.

  6. Praise them for listening! “I really love the way you got up and did everything we needed to do to get to school. I'm so proud of you!” Positive reinforcement of the behavior you want motivates your child to follow instructions in the future.

  7. Model obedience.  Show kids that you follow rules – in traffic, at work, and in society. They notice when you don't.

Our kids need guidance and guidelines now and to survive in society. Treating children the way we would like to be treated, by giving them transition time, consequences and behaving courteously toward, will encourage them to behave.

Kids need to learn to follow rules - without you yelling


Sources for this post include:
 http://www.ahaparenting.com; http://everydaylife.globalpost.com,

Thank you for reading! 

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