My Child Just Won’t Listen
Linda Wechter-Ashkin Ph.D NCSP BC-TMHC ADHD CCSP
If I had a dollar for every parent that comes to me and says my child just won’t listen I would be a millionaire. It is just not true for most typical children. We will talk a little later about some children that really won’t or don’t listen in the way that their siblings do, but this is the exception rather than the rule. Most children will listen as long as they have learned to respect that you mean what you say, you do what you say you are going to do, and you have given them reason to respect you. If you have started and stopped a dozen chore charts and behavior plans, you have inadvertently taught them that you can’t be consistent. If you sit on the couch and scream things, but they know you are not going to put the controller down, they have learned that your words and actions don’t match. If you wait until you are over the top and then pull their game system out of the wall, they have learned that you can’t emotionally regulate. If you tell them not to hit their brother and then hit them when you are angry or even worse in some ways schedule a spanking, you have taught them that you are a hypocrite or that with power comes the right to mistreat people.
Most children will listen if they respect you and you have learned their currency. I love what I do but I also like the money I make that affords me to enjoy my family and give generously. Often parents talk about not wanting to bribe their children but if we are honest, bribery is part of our culture. We get discounts for not getting into an accident, not filing a claim, or having a profession that the company feels is worthy of a discount. We do what our boss says even when it doesn’t make sense because our reward is that yearly bonus. Our children have currency too and the best way to know what it is, is to watch them and even more importantly ask them.
Most children will listen, but you have to work to make that happen. Clear, consistent, concise words out of the mouths of parents that have earned the respect of their children equals a child who listens. Not all of the time, but a good amount of it. But what about when you have done it all exactly like you have been told and they really don’t listen. First check their hearing, and that is not a joke. Chronic ear infections, wax, and allergies can cause temporary hearing loss. It happened to me as a teenager and my parents were sure I had just become a jerk until we went to the doctor, and they took wads of wax out of my ears. And then talk to their teachers, their dance teachers, and martial arts instructors and see if they are having the same trouble. And then let us do a full assessment to make sure there is nothing else going on since not listening is associated with ADHD, Autism, Learning Disabilities, Depression, and Oppositional Defiant Disorder to name a few possibilities. Give Kelly a call at 561-767-6802 and schedule an evaluation. If nothing’s wrong, your child can listen, but your expectations and requirements need to change. But if something is wrong you would hate to spend years yelling and find out that the one not fully listening, was you.