Monday, May 11, 2009

Listening

One of the greatest parenting challenges I am currently facing is getting my children to listen to me.

My husband laughs that we use riot controlling techniques to calm them down--attempting to divide and conquer--as the sheer noise from our trio is sometimes hard to overcome. If they are excited about something, it is like a flock of squawking birds as they cover me up with their glittering eyes and chattering mouths.

I don't mind the excited chatter as much, it comes with the exuberance of this age. The part that is most frustrating for me is when they simply do not listen to important things I am trying to tell them. These independent, increasingly capable little people have mastered the art of 'tuning me out.'

In an attempt to avoid raising my voice more than necessary--and in the spirit of positive reinforcement--I decided to try a new approach. I gathered my little ducklings and explained to them that Mommy was serious about teaching them to listen. I often have instructions that are important to their safety or the smooth operation of our home. I encouraged them to start really listening, as I often had special things to tell them they would not want to miss.

Later, I asked the children repeatedly to do something (put on shoes maybe...or load up in the car) and no one was listening. In the same exact voice and volume I said, "Anyone who is listening to Mommy gets candy. Come with me right now."

Only one child followed. I filled her hands with candy and suddenly I had the boys' undivided attention. When they asked for candy, I explained that only the one who was listening got the treat...and they howled. And stomped. And protested. "That's not fair! I wanted that!"

I had not intended a spiritual lesson, but I got one loud and clear. How often do I miss out on blessings--not because they are being cruelly withheld, but because I am not paying attention?

More on this thought later...

6 comments:

JenB said...

I LIKE it. Very much. The idea and the lesson. Can't wait to hear more.

Our Family said...

My husband and I recently went to a parenting seminar with John Rosemond. The not listening thing is one of my biggest complaints with my almost 4 year old. This man is amazing and I highly recommend his parenting books. They are based on specific verses in the Bible and the one I read is called Parenting by the Book. It really made me wake up and realize what I want for my child. It basically is about raising your kids the way our grandparents did in the 40's and 50's and focusing on your marriage instead of devoting all your time to your kids. Another book he has written is New Parent Power. You can google him, but I say RUN to get these books. They are that great! I don't agree 100% with everything he says but his points are very powerful and scary when you think about how our society has changed in raising children. I LOVE your blog and it is so inspiring to me!

Tonya Ingram said...

Ditto here! LOL, I can totally relate. My problem is sometimes not following through with what I said, but I have realized that I am doing that and it's not good, so I am changing that, so they will know I'm serious and will not back down when I mean something. Thanks for sharing.

Kate said...

Oh, zing! Here I was laughing about the parenting challenges we all face, and then you were talking right to me. How true.

ACC-mom said...

Great idea!!! I am living with the same thing right now. My triplets will be five in a few months and we deal with "not listening" on a daily basis. You are NOT alone..... :)

Amy said...

Very good. I will be trying your strategy....
And regarding today's post on being tuned in to God in daily living...EXCELLENT. I have much to think about.
Amy@balmingilead.typepad.com