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helping children to listen to parents

  helping children to listen to parents


Every night found me nagging my kids for the same thing: "You guys, look at your room. Get your toys picked up right now!"

I didn't understand it. They would have their room picked up, but a few hours later, it would be messy again. Toys all over the floor, blankets on the floor. Toys in the hallway; toys downstairs.

I definitely was getting tired of looking at the mess, tired of stepping on Legos, but it was more than that. I was aggravated that they didn't appreciate what they had!

When I was growing up, we had only a few toys. I took good care of those toys - I still have my Tinker Toys in the original metal can with the included instruction book - and I'm 37!

My parents didn't have to nag me all the time - I don't think - to pick up my toys. I know that I appreciated them because they were so few and far between.

My kids have been less fortunate in that respect - tons of toys from Grandparents and relatives for Christmas.

Toys that move, make noises, and you name it.

They definitely don't appreciate the abundance of toys that they have. So, I figured that I'd teach them what it's like to appreciate them or they wouldn't get to have any!

One day I told them that every time I stepped on a toy, or had to pick up pieces of a set, or had to pick up something that was left out, it was going in the trash.

And that's what I did. But it didn't work.

You see, they ended up having ALL their toys in the trash. It was annoying because there wasn't anything left to play with when other kids came over.

And it still didn't solve the problem of not appreciating what they had.

They didn't even have time to miss the toys - they didn't have to. It was only a short while before the next birthday or holiday brought in a new batch of them.

So, with my thinking cap on, I came up with my next plan of attack - a sticker and reward chart system.

They were excited, thrilled, and motivated. When they got up in the morning, they'd do all the things on their chart, anxious to have the boxes filled up with stickers.

But, stickers and reward charts only work once a day! When the "my toys are picked up" box has a sticker, the rest of the day went down the tube.

And, it didn't work to just give stickers at bedtime. They had no motivation to pick up during the day, and it became a nightmare divvying out all the stickers when bedtime already dragged on longer than it should!

So, I gave up for awhile. The lecture method didn't work, the "tossing toys" method didn't work, and the reward chart didn't work the way I wanted it too.

My kids were messy and unappreciative, and I needed to do something about it - fast.

My friend Judi didn't have that problem. Her kids got out one toy at a time - even when company was over - and put up that toy before getting out the next. When it was time to leave their house, it was a snap to clean up with just one toy per child.

She had all these little boxes and containers for their toys with little pieces, so I thought that maybe that was the secret.

On my next trip to Walmart, I bought some containers to hold the toys; and a big box that held some community toys.

Unfortunately all that changed was that I now had empty containers in the kids room with toys on the floor.

So, one day, I finally asked Judi, "How do you get your kids to keep their toys picked up?"

"Well, you know," she said, "I used to go crazy with all the toys everywhere that never got put up - hurting my feet from stepping on them...until we started to use the 'Saturday box'."

"What's a Saturday box?" I asked.

"It's just a container that we have, and every time a toy is left out, it goes into the Saturday box. Then they have to wait until Saturday to get their toys back."

"Ohhhh..." I said. A new concept that hadn't occurred to me before!

"And, the great thing about it," Judi continued, "is that they can still see the toys all week. That way they know what they're missing - that solved our 'out-of-sight-out-of-mind' problem."

I just nodded with agreement and understanding - I was totally following her.

So, back to Walmart. :-)

I got each kid a container with three drawers to keep their small toys. I explained to each of them that they could only play with one toy or set at a time. I made it very clear that if anything was left out, it would go into the Saturday box.

Their eyes were wide with amazement.

They knew Mommy was serious.

So, the first day went without incident. Then, on the 2nd, there was the first infraction.

"Maegan," I told her, "you left out a Polly Pockets. It needs to go into the Saturday box."

Now, she is only three years old; but she understood. We put the toy in the Saturday box - a clear plastic container on the kitchen counter.

EVERY day she was asking me if it was "Saturday". Fortunately for her, we had started mid-week so she only had 2 days to wait.

The boys ended up with a few toys in there too.

It's amazing how a simple box called a "Saturday box" can solve a lot of problems and teach "appreciation" at the same time!

If you still have problems with toys being scattered everyone and nothing has worked for you, give the "Saturday Box" a try today!


About the author: Laura Bankston is author of homeschool curriculum: Homeschool Cooking in a Box and the Homeschool Cookbook. She currently home schools her three children, maintains home school support websites, and manages their family-owned service business. For information on her curriculum and free home school support services, please visit

There are times when every parent feels as if they might as well be talking to a block of wood. As with many other things, the harder you try to get your kids to listen, the more resistance you get. Here are ten things to consider when you want to get a message across:

1.)Make sure your relationship is solid. If your kids don?t like you, they?re a lot less likely to listen to you.

2.)Remember that actions speak louder than words. If your kids know that what you say won?t be backed up with action, they?ll more easily tune you out. Having natural consequences for not listening (toys disappear if kids don?t listen and they?re not picked up) has a way of having kids pay better attention.

3.)Talk about listening to them. Make it a point to discuss the importance of listening occasionally when your kids are receptive. Talk about how nice it feels when someone else listens to you completely and what a great quality this is.

4.)Have a sense of timing when you talk to your kids. Don?t expect them to listen well when they?re in the middle of something, when they?re extremely tired, or when they?re hungry. Find a time when they?re reasonably relaxed and you have their full attention.

5.Model great listening yourself. Give them your absolute attention when they speak to you and try to reflect back what you heard so they can see how focused you were on what they were saying. 6.Each child listens in a unique way, get to know their preferred style. Your child may be a kinesthetic learner who listens and understands by writing something down or by walking through something. Find the way to reach your child in the way that works best.

7. Avoid Lectures Many parents have a lecturing style that they?re unaware of. Their kids are very aware of this style however, and tune them out. Speak in a casual and pleasant tone that you would use when talking with a friend

8. Limit their TV watching. Kids who watch a lot of TV tend to be more easily distracted and have a more difficult time listening. This may also help to improve your relationship when you spend more time with your kids!

9. Talk to your kids in a non-judgmental way. The more they feel judged by you, the more shame they?ll feel and the less they?ll hear. See your kids as great and they?ll listen as though they are! 10. Be genuinely interested in your children?s lives.

Ask them curious questions about what?s they?re experiencing. When your kids know that you have a real interest in their life, they?re more likely to look forward to what you have to say.
article written by Ken Mathie
How can we as parents help our children make good choices? How do we prepare our children to think for themselves so that they can ultimately do this? Well, beginning at about age 7, children begin to experience the "age of reason," when they begin to be able to truly tell the difference between right and wrong. Ultimately, with parenting, this culminates at about the age of 18, where bona fide prudence comes into play.

David Isaacs, Ph.D., who is a Spanish educator, offers this suggestion: parents should establish the foundation for prudence by instilling four good habits during the first seven years of their children's lives. These include: obedience, order, sincerity and justice.

These first four habits are the foundation for what will become the present development of other good habits during these next three phases, which are: charity and fortitude or courage, which occurs between the ages of about 8 to 12; faith and temperance, or self-control, which occurs between the ages of about 13 to 15; and hope and prudence, or sound judgment, which develops around young adulthood, between ages of 16 to 18, roughly. Dr. Isaacs believes that those who develop these virtues will automatically find happiness and maturity in their lives.

To break these down further, we briefly discuss these habits in some detail:

Obedience: Obedience means that the parents establish an authority at home such that it minimizes chaos, including clutter, sickness, hunger, shouting, disrespect, violence or rebellion. Although this in one respect may seem tolerable and even normal in infants and toddlers, it cannot be allowed to continue because as you can probably tell, it would become intolerable in adolescents and grown ups. Those in authority must establish such boundaries early on so that power plays do not occur between, for example, parents and adolescents, when authority is necessarily much more challenged. Young children will learn to listen to their parents as the authority, while parents themselves will make sure to exercise self-control enough that their demands are both reasonable and respectful. Children are also to be extended explanations to common rules of the house or the reasons for punishment, for example. There should be consistent, regular and clear communication between parents and children, such that there are no surprises and pleasure/displeasure, approval/disapproval, happiness or sadness is openly expressed and without manipulation. In this way, the family's value system is validated and is more likely to be respected later in life. If it is not consistent and respectful, children are much more likely to reject it later on.

Sincerity: Sincerity must be modeled properly for children by parents at home. What sincerity means is that you tell the truth in the proper time and situation. Children must integrate it and use it in the context of helping people they care about improve, out of charity and justice. Children prefer this kind of home environment to one that is chaotic or otherwise negative.

If children grow up amidst lies and chaos, rife with bad habits or vices and inconsistent values, they may turn cynical and become selfish instead of becoming a participant in the success of their own family, and ultimately their larger community. By doing so, they delay or even negate their own chances for true happiness. Of course, no good parent truly wants this to happen.

It is therefore crucial for parents to expose their children to consistent standards and true goodness, in order to encourage their children in their potential abilities and talents, so that those children know what the truth is and love goodness. This can best happen by using the following two interdependent but separate powers of the intellect. Every person possesses these, and because of these, we are all accountable. They are:

Order: Order provides everyone involved in the family, but especially young children, a consistent sense of stability and security, since things are done in an orderly fashion and at the "proper" place and time. If children are not given this type of structure, they can experience disorder. If this becomes a constant occurrence, it can disrupt a child and put him off balance. This can also affect his caregiver, his schedule, his bedtime and everything about his day. Parents, too, need to have order so that they can preserve their own sense of well-being and stay sane. Affection, when used in the proper context with reasoning, can help make sure that family members get along well and are happy.

Justice: Children value justice because they naturally seek what is fair within the realm of their parents' time and love as they compete with their siblings, parents' work, and other parental distractions that demand the parents' attention. They need to understand fairness in regard to what is important and what is due to them or others. They expect adults in their lives to apply rules and structure fairly. If the parent does not do so, children may rebel and ultimately defy both authority figures and rules set forth for them.

Simply, children must be reassured that life and the rules therein are fair; they should also make sense to children. Children at this age need to see things as they are rather than as they seem to be, so that they can develop their own sense of values and their personal moral code.

Communication Tip If you're a parent who needs to speak with your young child or with a group of young children, establish eye contact and hold them closely if appropriate. It's preferable to be at eye level, in order to maintain direct communication and establish rapport. Parents can squat, bend over or kneel to get to the child's level, or the child can sit on their lap. When you're talking with the child, disregard other activities and use the time for one-on-one attention.

Besides doing this, use a calm and soothing tone of voice to give instructions, or a firm serious one to discipline. If you smile or laugh when children do wrong, or if you are indifferent or angry when they do right, children will be confused and may ultimately not develop good habits and self-control. Remember that the ultimate goal is to have a strong sense of self, a strong moral code, and self-discipline.

Even young children can start learning the difference between fact and opinion, important and not so important, cause-and-effect, family or friend, problems and solutions, male and female, right and wrong, public versus private, what one's rights and duties are, life-threatening versus non-life-threatening, safe versus dangerous, or eternal and temporal. There are many other distinctions that can be made and included in this list. Of course, parents can always consult a trusted friend or family member, or other authority such as pediatrician, child psychiatrist, etc., as needs defines. As you continue, both parents and children will understand their own personal value system and can communicate clearly with from within the same system to each other.

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