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Published on August 26, 2021

How to Get Kids to Listen And Respect You

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How to Get Kids to Listen And Respect You

Do your kids listen to you the first time you ask them to do something? If not, then you may have to keep reading. Kids will truly listen when there is mutual respect between you and them. They will listen to you when they know that when you say something, you mean it.

Here are ten tips on how to get your kids to listen and respect you.

1. Show Mutual Respect

You can get kids to listen by demanding authority and ruling with an iron fist, but at what cost? You can yell and scream your kids into submission and obedience, but at what cost? The cost will be your relationship with your child in the long run, as resentments will form in them.

If you don’t show respect for your kids, it is going to be hard to get them to listen to you. They may obey, but if you act as a tyrant who demands that kids do what you say because you are the one in charge, then you are fighting a losing battle. The basis of your relationship must begin with respect. Mutual respect is the foundation for any relationship, including the parent-child relationship.

2. Avoid Yelling

When yelling and dominance are the themes of the relationship, then an undercurrent of resentment will develop in the child. Nobody wants to feel dominated, nor do they want to feel that they are of less value than another person.

Let your child know that you value them through respectful interactions. You are still the parent, but you can parent and get your kids to listen through respectful interaction. When you use demanding, authoritarian parenting methods, you are undermining your relationship with the child and resentments are likely to form.

Avoid yelling to gain respect from your child. If you fall back to yelling, screaming, and making demands, then you are undermining your ability to gain your child’s respect in the long run.

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3. Use the Golden Rule

Respect is founded on the golden rule: treat others as you want to be treated. If you want your child to respect you, you must also treat them with respect. This means talking to your child in a tone that is kind, genuine, and considerate. Granted, this is not easy when your four-year-old is having a meltdown in aisle 5 of the grocery store and you have many more errands to run, work to do, and no extra time on hand. It takes practice to parent without yelling and heightened emotions.

We are still people and get mad at our kids. However, we have to keep in mind that they are learning and we have far more years of practice at these things. We must keep our cool and maintain authority while parenting.

How do you want to be talked to when you are having a bad day and feel like melting down? That is how you should talk to your child who is having a meltdown and is obviously having a bad day. Kindness, love, and respect, when paired with authority, will create a relationship where your child will listen and respect you. Treat them as you want to be treated.

4. Ensure that Your Words Have Consequences

We know that mutual respect is the first step to getting our kids to listen. This respect will help them be open to what we have to say. If they feel that they matter because you respect them, then they will develop respect for you. This will help when it comes to disciplining your child.

The second step is ensuring that our words have consequences. When it comes to discipline, your words must have weight. If you say you are going to do something, you must do it.

For example, if you ask your child to stop hitting the couch while you are typing an article for Lifehack and they keep hitting it, then let them know that if they don’t stop, they get a five-minute time-out. True story, this just happened. He stopped. Why did he stop? Because he knew I meant what I said. If he didn’t stop, he knew it would mean an immediate time out, not an additional warning and more time to carry on with the behavior that I asked him to stop.

I asked in a calm voice while looking into his eyes, letting him know I was serious. He also knows that I mean what I say because he is now seven years old and has experienced consistent follow-through with punishments for years. I don’t ask the same thing several times. I also don’t make threats. I follow through with reasonable punishments when the instructions and requests are not followed by my child.

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5. Avoid Big Threats

I have seen parents make big threats, thinking that the bigger the threat, the more the child is likely to stop the behavior. This is not reasonable, nor is it a good idea. Big threats that you don’t follow through with make your words meaningless.

For example, if I had told my son that I was going to throw away his toys if he didn’t stop hitting the couch, that would have been unreasonable. Throwing away toys that cost a bit of money to buy as a consequence of a small infraction (hitting the couch while I am typing) is unreasonable. If he kept hitting the couch, what would I do? It would be unrealistic to actually throw away the toys.

Therefore, many parents in this instance keep making the same threat with no actual follow-through. The threats continue because the behavior continues and even escalates (i.e. the couch hitting gets louder and harder) and finally, the parent must throw away the toys and/or resorts to a different punishment to stop the escalation.

The escalation could have been avoided by stating realistic consequences and following through the first time. Time-outs and taking away a toy or a privilege are all reasonable. I often take away my kid’s tablet time or give five-minute time-outs as a consequence. I avoid making big threats that I cannot follow through with in good conscience. It helps me in the long run because when I give reasonable consequences, I can easily follow through with the punishment at that moment and not feel terrible.

Avoid making big threats that you cannot follow through with in good conscience. Instead, provide consequences with warnings and ensure that the punishment is worthy of the behavior. Small infractions should get small consequences. Big infractions require more serious consequences. Don’t make a habit of making big threats of big consequences that you can’t actually enforce.

6. Follow Through

A method of parenting where a parent follows through with their consequences immediately is called the “one ask approach.” In this method, a parent asks their child only once to do something. If they don’t do it, then the parent provides a consequence if they don’t do as asked.

For example, if you ask your child to put their dishes in the sink but they don’t get up and start doing the task, then the parent can let the child know the consequence if they don’t follow through with what was asked. If they don’t put away their dishes, they are going to lose half an hour of their TV time. They don’t get three warnings or even two. One warning is all that is provided. If they don’t follow instructions, then the consequence is dealt out.

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In this example, if the child doesn’t put away their dishes after the warning is provided, then the parent follows through and says “I am sorry, but now you lost half of your TV time for tonight.” The parent must then not allow the child to watch TV and can suggest reading books or playing outside instead. This method will help you parent with consistency.

7. Give Them Your Full Attention

When you are speaking to your child look them in the eye and give them your full attention. This approach is much more fruitful in getting your child to listen than distracted, partial attention.

Case in point: if a parent is playing a game on their phone and yells across the room to have their child go do their homework, the interaction is less meaningful than making a face-to-face request. If the parent sets down their phone and walks over to their child and looks in their child’s eyes and says, “it is time to stop watching tv for now and do your homework, you can watch after your homework is finished,” it is much more likely to be fruitful because full attention is provided.

Giving your child your full attention with eye contact and face-to-face interactions shows them that you care and you are serious about what you are saying. This will go a long way toward getting your child to listen and respond to what you have to say.

8. Show Genuine Care

Showing that you care is immensely meaningful to any child. Your child needs to know that you care about them. Your words, actions, and tone of voice show that you care. If you care, be sure to show it.

For example, if I want my kids to set the table for dinner, yelling at them saying “you know its time for dinner, you should have set the table five minutes ago” will not be as productive as making a caring statement. Such a caring statement could be “you do a great job setting the dinner table. It is so nice to work together, with me making the meal and you setting the table so we can enjoy time together each night. Can you set the table in the next twenty minutes before dinner?”

Showing your child that you care will help build a positive relationship, and your child will be more likely to listen and respect you. Your words and actions in your daily interaction will show that you genuinely care for your child.

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9. Show Them That You Value Them

Giving your child your full attention also shows them that you care and that they are valued. Everyone wants to feel valued. Our children should always feel that we value them.

Some ways that you can give your child attention and show that they are valued include the following:

  • Praise your child.
  • Give physical affections, such as hugs.
  • Show interest in their activities.
  • Get on their level when talking.
  • Make eye contact and smile while interacting.
  • Give positive feedback in your daily interactions.
  • Provide them with support in accomplishing daily activities (i.e. help your child tie their shoes and teach them at the same time as they are learning this task).
  • Build up your child with positive messages.
  • Reassure your child when they are fearful.
  • Support your child when they are upset.
  • Make time to spend with your child one on one daily.
  • Respond to your child every time they talk to you (do not ignore them).
  • Ask your child about their day with meaningful, open-ended questions.

According to the article, Positive Attention and Your Child,[1]

“From birth, children need experiences and relationships that show them they’re valued, capable human beings who bring pleasure to others. Positive attention, reactions and responses from key grown-ups help children build a picture of how valued they are.”

Children must be told and shown that they are valued. What we say and how we act toward our children should be done in a way that makes them consistently feel valued. This will help build a relationship where listening and respect go both ways.

10. Be a Good Role Model

To get your kids to listen and respect you, then you must also be a good role model worthy of respect. Kids watch their parents and caregivers and thus, will imitate their behavior.

Case in point: if you consistently object to figures of authority and do not follow rules or laws, then your child is observing and learning this from you. They will learn that they do not need to listen to or respect authority figures. Be an example that teaches your child to listen and respect others by your own behaviors and modeling.

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The Bottom Line

The bottom line to teaching kids to listen and respect you is to treat them with respect and follow through with consequences. Your words must have weight, and this only happens when you are consistent with your follow-through. Treating your child with love, respect, care, and affection is important to creating a relationship where they want to listen to you and mutually respect you.

More Parenting Tips

Featured photo credit: Tanaphong Toochinda via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] raisingchildren.net.au: Positive attention and your child

More by this author

Dr. Magdalena Battles

A Doctor of Psychology with specialties include children, family relationships, domestic violence, and sexual assault

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Published on August 20, 2021

Parallel Parenting vs Co-Parenting: How To Know Which Is Best For You?

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Parallel Parenting vs Co-Parenting: How To Know Which Is Best For You?

It is common knowledge that being a parent has its difficulties. All parents know that the task of rearing a child is not the easiest job in the world. In fact, it’s one of the toughest. You’re dealing with human beings—complex human beings, still unfolding—with feelings, wants, and wills of their own.

Being a parent is sometimes akin to walking a minefield—no one knows what’s going to happen at any given moment. If you have children and are fortunate enough to be raising them alongside your partner, then good for you! You have a certain advantage: two parents together, supporting each other as their children grow and mature, making unanimous decisions, and in sync about what’s in the best interest of their child. This scenario has numerous benefits, including happy children who turn into happy adults.

But what happens when there is no “happily-ever-after” for the parents? When things just don’t work out? Now, you have a situation where you have children, but living apart and often with different ideas and ways of doing things. Then what?

Well, then you have to decide how those children will be parented moving forward.

There are several ways of doing this, two of which I will discuss in this article: parallel parenting vs co-parenting—very different approaches, each with their own pros and cons. If you happen to be one of those parents who don’t make it as a couple, then reviewing these two very disparate parenting styles is important.

Let’s start with the least favorable one, at least for the children: parallel parenting.

What Is Parallel Parenting?

If you’re divorced or if your situation is toxic and you are unable to interact or solve problems in a respectful and friendly way, then parallel-parenting may be the best option for you.[1] Not all parents divorce and stay friends. In fact, a great many of them may not want to have anything to do with each other, and if it weren’t for the kids they produced, they’d choose never to see each other again. So, how does Parallel Parenting work?

In a scenario where the parents are less than amicable, everything is kept completely separate. Communication is maintained to a minimum and is usually in written form or by phone instead of in person.

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Parents assign specific days to attend sports or school events. For instance, you may take your child to this weekend’s soccer game, but your ex-spouse will take them to the next one. It’s the same with school activities, such as back-to-school nights or parent/teacher conferences.

Currently, I have a client who, while married, was in a terribly venomous, abusive situation. Unfortunately for my client and her partner, they share a 3-year old daughter. My client was abysmally abused for years by her partner.

Now, they are in the process of divorcing and their little girl has to go back and forth. Sadly, the abusive mother is belittling and disparaging in nearly every interaction they have regarding their daughter. This is highly traumatic for their little girl who is forced to witness the hurtful strikes thrown at my client, her other mom. In this situation, the less contact for these mothers, the better—not only for their benefit but for their daughter’s as well.

For children raised in a parallel parenting setting, it isn’t easy. Psychologically, it can be very damaging to have your parents interacting regularly and acting like they want to kill each other in the process.

You might want to consider parallel parenting as a last resort. The negative impact on the children can be lifelong. Regrettably, some parents care more about their animosity toward each other than the reverberations their interactions will have on their children.

3 Tips on Effective Parallel Parenting

Although parallel parenting is not necessarily optimal, several things can be done to minimize the damage.

1. Keep Communication to a Minimum

Whenever possible, communicate via emails, text messages, or in writing. This prevents face-to-face confrontations. If the communications can be kept brief, to the point, and business-like, then all the better.

On your scheduled days, it’s best not to reach out to the other parent, unless there is a true emergency. Again, this diminishes the possibility of any toxic face-offs.

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2. Avoid Attending Child-Related Activities

Because of the possible level of conflict that can erupt, attending school conferences, or any extra-curricular activities should be avoided. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to relay the situation to the school so that they’re aware. In that way, you’re kept informed of important upcoming events without having to consult with the other parent. The chances, then, of missing an important event in your child’s life is eliminated.

In addition, this diminishes the tension, animosity, and conflict associated with hurt parents that are not prioritizing their child’s well-being.

3. Stay Informed

It’s important to know what’s going on with your child, not only physically but mentally as well. Prepare a list with addresses and phone numbers of all the relevant people in your child’s life. This includes doctors, dentists, teachers, friends, etc. Stay in the loop. In this manner, you can have input when necessary.

The parallel parenting framework isn’t always the best for the children, but there are some positive aspects to consider. Because the parents have little or no contact, the children aren’t exposed to their parent’s hostility and antagonism toward each other. It also reduces stress for the kids who often have to deal with their parent’s unpredictable and nasty behavior.

Here are some of the other benefits of parallel parenting:

  • Children have a decreased exposure to conflict.
  • Children have the chance to develop healthier relationships with both parents.
  • Parents can have their own personal set of rules separate from the other.

One thing to keep in mind is that your divorce may have been highly volatile, and as you start to parent separately, parallel parenting may be a better option at the beginning. However, it doesn’t have to be permanent.

According to Our Family Wizard,[2]

“If your divorce was particularly contentious, co-parenting immediately after your separation may be too big an ask. In these situations, parallel parenting may be a good transition strategy to ease the way into co-parenting at a point further down the road, when emotions aren’t running quite so high. Your children will also be at their most vulnerable immediately after your separation. Going the extra mile to ensure they’re not forced to cope with the added stress of co-parenting conflict will be of tremendous benefit.”

Now, let’s take a look at the flip side of the coin.

What Is Co-Parenting?

What is Co-Parenting? And is it right for you?

Co-Parenting is for those parents whose divorce hasn’t made them mortal enemies. These parents have no issues working together to solve problems and can easily work with each other to come up with a solution that is in the best interest of their child, even though they’re no longer living under the same roof.[3]

Their child goes from home to home without incident. Parents attend school functions, talk about their child’s report cards, meet with their child’s teacher, etc., all without any distressing episodes. With co-parenting, parents talk often and compare notes to make sure they’re on the same page, all while being civil and respectful to each other. You can see how much better this is psychologically for the children.

Co-parenting doesn’t mean that there are never any problems. It simply means that if there are any problems, there is a forum where to discuss them—a direct and effective way to head off worse problems before they escalate. In this way, tension is minimized, which means less suffering for the children in the long run.

If co-parents can continue in this way as their children walk the path into adulthood, their children will have a much better chance at growing up with minimal psychological damage. You might want to think of co-parenting as an investment in the mental well-being of your child’s future.

4 Benefits of Co-Parenting

If you’re not convinced, let me share some of the co-parenting benefits.

1. Minimized Conflict for Your Children

Having divorced parents is bad enough, but why not extinguish the additional conflict for your child of witnessing their parents bicker? Co-parenting is a much less stress-producing situation for the children involved.

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2. More Stability for Your Children

When the children see that their parents get along—act like regular parents—not like vicious enemies intent on maligning and attacking each other’s characters, the children feel more comforted.

3. Semblance of Normalcy and Routine

It’s stabilizing for the children to see their parents together—to know that even though they’re no longer married, they can attend school functions, discuss outings, etc., without a yelling match.

4.  Feelings of Security in the Shared Routine and Rules.

While growing up, children need stability. The more stable the better. Hence, having shared routines and rules is very beneficial to the children’s well-being.

According to Dr. Gail Gross,[4]

“A well-bonded child is secure and does better at everything. If raised in a stable environment, your child will have less anxiety and a higher threshold of security. Therefore, your child will approach everything with a stronger sense of self. . . and a strong central core. As a result, he will learn to depend on his own resources and capacities, which allows him to be independent and self-actualized.”

With co-parenting, the children don’t feel as though they have to choose sides. And it actually provides them with the opportunity of building a strong and loving relationship with each of their parents. Furthermore, there is a lesser chance of parentification in which the child feels the need to take on the role of peacekeeper between their parents.[5]

General Tips for Divorced Parents

In addition, I’d like to share some general tips for divorced parents. These tips can help make an unfavorable situation more favorable.

  1. If you have issues with your partner, talk to your partner. Do not talk to your partner through your child. Don’t rely on them to be the messenger as it puts children in a terribly awkward situation.
  2. If there are corrosive feelings between you and your ex-spouse, it’s best to express them away from the child. Your problems are none of their business. Also, don’t talk to your child negatively about their other parent. This is very hurtful to the child. You may be divorced, but you and your ex-spouse, as parents, remain parents forever. And the children love them both.
  3. Don’t interrogate your child as soon as they get home from the other parent’s home. For example, don’t ask questions such as “was Ellie there? What’s she like? What did your father say about. . .?” Neutrality is the key.
  4. Make it easier for your child to have duplicate items in both homes. It’s less for them to cart back and forth. Try living in two houses and alternating every few days. That will give you a picture of what it’s like for your child.
  5. Allow your child some control by giving them some freedom when choosing “parental time.” As they get older, they may want to be at one house when it’s the other parent’s turn because something special might be going on with friends. Flexibility is crucial. It’s also important because it gives the child a sense of control.
  6. Don’t make your child feel guilty if it’s your turn with them and they want to hang out with friends. It’s not their fault their parents couldn’t work it out. Let them have friend time without the guilt trip.

Final Thoughts

I hope this article gives you a better idea of the two different versions of child-rearing: parallel parenting and co-parenting. You can also create a hybrid model that might work better for you. Divorce can be traumatizing for children, but what makes it much worse is the tension between the parents.

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Divorcing is never easy—it’s actually downright painful. But if you can remember that together you brought precious cargo into this world and that they have to be cared for in the best possible way, then things can go a lot more smoothly—not only for your children, but for you as a parent dealing with the challenging task of turning a child into a good, kind, and responsible adult.

More Tips for Divorced Parents

Featured photo credit: Tyson via unsplash.com

Reference

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