Getting Your Kids to Listen to You. Could There Be Anything Better?

When your kids don’t listen, how long does your patience last?

You think you’ve tried everything. You ask nicely, you keep asking nicely until you explode, you lecture about all you do for them, you give them consequences for not listening, you give them extra privileges if they do — but your kids still won’t listen.

You can’t seem to get them do what they should: brush their teeth, go to bed, get off the computer, quiet down in the car, eat a healthy meal, pick up their dirty clothes, etc. What’s wrong with them? What’s wrong with you?

What if: They do listen, but they don’t like what they hear? (That’s not okay, is it?)

Now ask yourself: Are you asking them for cooperation or obedience?

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April ’18 Q&A – “Bad” Preschool Behavior, Racism and Screentime

“Bad” Preschool Behavior

Q. Our 31/2 year old grandson just started preschool, and has already gotten an email (in 6 days) about how bad his behavior is.  Not listening, not being nice with other kids, etc.  I don’t think he is old enough to verbalize what is bothering him, so how do we figure out how to help him? I remember your story about your child when she was young and even now you said it almost breaks your heart because she couldn’t say what was bothering her.

A. If your grandson’s preschool is complaining about his behavior,

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Music and ADHD: A Quick Guide for Parents
Music and ADHD

We all love music. Now we know it can help attention span for kids with ADHD.

Bono once famously said, “Music can change the world because it can change people.” This sentiment is true on a number of levels, including helping people with attention deficit disorders control the symptoms of their condition.

According to Psychology Today, music may be used to help people manage ADHD. In a recent article posted online, Larry Maucieri Ph.D, ABPP-CN reports that people trained in music have an overwhelming tendency to perform better in many areas, including attention span and memory. It is theorized that part of the reason music affects ADHD in a positive way is because it increases dopamine levels, which, when deficient, may cause or contribute to ADHD.

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Taming Your Gremlin ®*
We all say and do things we don’t mean. How many times have you screamed or slammed a door or hit a child and moments later regretted it. You knew better, right? So how come you didn’t do what you wished you had in the moment? Because your fears and assumptions got the better of you, provoked your emotions, and your reactions were automatic.

Most of us get our buttons pushed. Maybe we forgive ourselves, maybe we don’t. So if we react more often than we’d like, why don’t we cut our children some slack? Children don’t have the benefit of adult reasoning or self-control. Wouldn’t it be smart to expect that your children will behave impulsively, even when they know better?

Of course you want to guide your child toward gaining self-control. Here is one method to reign in impulsivity with no more blame and lecturing.

Ask your child to tame his gremlin

Begin by asking your child if he ever thinks there is something inside him that makes him do things he doesn’t mean to do, i.e. hitting, kicking, screaming, throwing…. Something that takes control of him. If he doesn’t seem to know what you’re talking about or is not interested, let it go. Try another time with different words. If he says, Yes, continue.

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March ’18 Q&A – Getting Choices to Work, Getting a Spouse On Board and Swearing

Getting Choices to Work

Q. What is the next step after saying, “You can either pick up that toy you threw and put it in the box or hand it to me. Which do you choose?” and the child refuses to choose or states they refuse to do either? I frequently find this with my 3 year old daughter. We either end up in a power struggle or I end up letting it go and the toy is left or I pick it up. 

A. I would add, “If you can’t make the choice right now, let’s take a break and do something else and then come back to it.” If you put it to her the moment she has thrown the toy it is too soon because she is deep in her anger. Next time give it time for her emotions and yours to calm. I might also start with “Do you want to…” instead of “You can either…” which sounds a little more threatening. If your anger is behind your words, she will definitely not respond. Take a break, do some calming down activity, then acknowledge the anger that made her throw the toy – “You were very angry when I asked you to put your toys away. You didn’t want to do that so you threw one of them because you felt mad.” You then normalize her feelings and let her know she is okay. Then say, “Are you ready now to make a choice? Do you want to bring it to me or put it in the box?” Once feelings are calmed, she is more likely to want to make amends.

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What Your Teen Wants to Hear From You


Parents of teens tear their hair out wondering what happened to that child who cooperated at least some of the time, listened once in a while, and adjusted to the limits set some of the time. Now an attitude seems to replace that child and an alien has taken over.

The thing is, your child is the same child, but she is growing up and pushing out. She must separate from her dependency on you. She must make decisions on her own, take responsibility for herself, and navigate among her world of peers.

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February ’18 Q&A – Handling Big Emotions, When Anger Gets Physical and When to Negotiate and When Not

Handling Big Emotions

Q. My 4-year-old son still has very intense fits/tantrums. He has an older brother who is 6 1/2. A lot of the time we try and ignore his fits, and usually he will go to his bed and get his loveys and cry. Sometimes his fits can be more than 15 minutes. But the times when I’m struggling with how to deal with them is when we simply can’t ignore and wait—when he does not want to leave the house. I had to literally drag him kicking and screaming into the car. After 10 minutes of him standing in the car (unwilling to get in his seat) and screaming, my husband took him out and hugged/held him and tried to connect with him. We brought him back to the car and the same thing ensued. At this point, we forced him into his chair and buckled him and went to the park as planned, as our older son had been very patiently waiting. He cried the whole 10 minutes there, and refused to get out of the car for a while. Eventually he did get out, and of course he had a fabulous time riding his bike and playing at the park for the next hour. The same thing happens often.

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“Wait, aren’t I the parent here?” Using Your Parent Authority

The human child remains with a parent until the child is capable of making his own decisions about his health, safety, and well-being. The parent holds authority over this child until that time — usually through the teen years.

That’s the reason for parent authority. It is not to control the child to be who the parent wants or to demand obedience to make life easier for the parent. This leads to power struggles and rebellion or looking to others for authority and approval.

Your job as parent is to insure that your child does what she shouldn’t be expected to do on her own – simply because she’s too young.

Rick Trinkner of the University of New Hampshire has researched the types of families who raise self-confident, self-controlled, respectful children. Trinkner says,

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January ’18 Q&A – Sharing & Hogging, School Resistance and The Dark Side

Sharing and Hogging

Q. My three-year-old has a very big issue with sharing and hogging. She has an 18 mo. old sister who is not allowed to touch anything. I understand that my daughter still is having a hard time with her arrival, she has to share me, she doesn’t get to have me all to herself, she doesn’t even get to read books alone with me and on top of it all I am three times as tired, have to do a lot more chores, can’t play with her at the drop of the hat, and she doesn’t get to have all of my adoration just for her. I still feel really guilty about that. At first I thought, fair enough the toys were hers, so I opted to buy my youngest toys for herself. I told my eldest and explained before we bought anything that I was buying for her sister so she doesn’t have to touch hers. She agreed but once the toy is bought she wants to have it and play with it. She gets so angry and hits me when I try to give the toy back to her sister.

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Raising Gratitude

So many parents complain, especially at holiday and birthday time, how ungrateful their children are. It’s hard to put in all the time, effort, and money into our children’s upbringing and wants and desires only to have them take and take and show no appreciation. So how do we turn this around? How do we raise grateful children?

The irony is that when you expect your children to show appreciation—in other words when your button gets pushed because they don’t, and you react anywhere from subtly guilt-tripping to blowing up—they will only get defensive and you will never see it. Yet when you least expect it and never demand it, that’s when you get it.

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