A few months ago I crashed headfirst into my most frustrating parenting problem to date: My daughters were ignoring me. I could tell them five times to do anything -- get dressed, turn off the TV, brush their teeth -- and they either didn't hear me or didn't listen. So I'd tell them five more times, louder and louder.
I recognized that at least part of the problem was me. After much lamenting about my lame parenting skills.
Say it With a Single Word The situation My daughters have only one assigned chore: to carry their plates to the sink when they're done eating. Still, not a night went by when I didn't need to tell them to do it, sometimes three times. Even that didn't guarantee they would -- and who would finally clear them? Take a guess. The old way After they ignored my repeated commands, I'd sit Hina and Saanvi(My Daughters) down and preach for ten minutes about how I wasn't their servant and this wasn't a restaurant. The better way Kids usually know what they're supposed to do; they just need some simple reminding. "They'll tune you out when you go on and on," Mr. Rakesh Agarwal told me. "Instead, try just one word to jog their memory." The result After dinner one night, all I said was "plates." At first the girls looked at me as if I were speaking in an alien tongue. But a second later, they picked them up and headed for the kitchen. After roughly a month of reinforcement, I don't need to say anything; they do it automatically. "Teeth!" works equally well for getting them to brush, as does "Shoes" to replace my typical morning mantra: "Find your shoes and put them on; find your shoes and put them on". And when I hear Hina screaming, "Give me that!" I simply say, "Nice words" (okay, that's two words). I practically faint when she says, "Saanvi, would you please give that to me?” But that's the entire point: to change the way we talk to our kids, so they not only understand what we're trying to say but actually want to listen.