Video Transcript & Notes:
You know that feeling when you’ve told your child to do something, but they don’t do it right away or they flat out say no? And then that feeling makes you repeat yourself over and over, or maybe even raise your voice or yell? You can do something that feels better. I’ve got a surprisingly easy way for you to get kids to listen the first time without yelling. I’ll tell you exactly how to do it in this video. And at the end, I’ve got a bonus tip to make it EVEN more likely your child will do what you ask right away.
The truth is, we actually can’t make our kids do anything, and that includes listening to us. But we can control what we do, as parents. And we can do things that make it more likely that our kids will listen to us.
The surprisingly easy thing to do to get your kids to listen is called the 10-second pause. Basically, tell your child to do something in a regular voice and regular (but firm) tone. Then, PAUSE AND WAIT 10 seconds. Count the seconds in your mind (not out loud) and literally say nothing and do nothing else. Just keep an eye on them until they’ve done what you said or until 10-seconds have passed. So this means that when there’s something you really need your child to do, you have to be within earshot and you have to be able to see them. This 10-second pause won’t work if you’re in another room or have to leave the room before the 10-seconds is up.
If you’re anything like me, and get impatient easily or you’re in a rush, 10 seconds can feel like a long time. Sometimes, I fall into the trap of repeating myself immediately or just doing the thing for my daughter. In the long-run that’s not very helpful for either of us.
Most times though, I try to remember to use the 10-second pause, so I PAUSE and WAIT. I literally say nothing else. This means, I don’t respond if my daughter says “no” right away. I don’t answer any “but why?” or “do I have to?” I don’t make a face or sigh or say her name or clear my throat to get her attention. I just say whatever it is once, and then I wait. Silently. Sometimes kids get distracted. Sometimes it takes them a second to process what you’re saying. Sometimes they’re waiting to see if you really mean it. PAUSING and WAITING gives them an actual opportunity to do what you’re saying.
If your child does what you told them at any point during those 10-seconds, make sure to say something about that right away. That could be something like “thanks so much for listening quickly, sweetie.” You’ll find that by using the 10-second pause, you’ll have more opportunities to point out what your kids are doing well, rather than correcting them.
Ok, now you might be thinking, ok this is good but what happens after the 10-seconds? What if they still didn’t listen? When this happens, you want to make your job as easy as possible, so say and do the exact same thing every time. Being super consistent will help your kids learn that you really mean something when you say it. It will also help you stay calmer because you only have to remember to say and do ONE thing after the 10-second pause. So, if after 10-seconds your child still didn’t listen. Give them a warning. Ok, so maybe you actually have to remember two things. First, give them a warning (which is really more like a reminder), Say, if you don’t X (like put your shoes away, whatever you asked them to do the first time worded in the exact same way), then I’ll help you do it. Give another 10-seconds of pausing and waiting. Then second, if it still doesn’t happen, say, “You didn’t do what I told you to, so now I’ll help you do it. (like guiding them to the place where their shoes are or taking their hand to walk out the door or whatever.). Always repeat these phrases in the exact same way. Your child will get more used to it, and you won’t even have to think about what to say since it’ll come automatically.
So one last thing, if you really want to increase your chance of your child listening to you, give them a REASON to listen before you tell them anything. Something like, “It’s almost time to leave for school, please put on your shoes.” “It’s almost time to leave for school.” is the reason for telling them to put on their shoes. Or, reason for picking up toys – “someone might step on those and break them” please pick them up.
For more help on how to get kids to listen better, grab my free guide 👉🏼 48 Things to Say Instead of Stop, Don’t, and No