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“Dr. Rastogi, how do I get my kids to listen to me?” This is one question I get asked most frequently, both professionally and socially!
Although as adults we often pride ourselves at being excellent communicators at work and with friends, one patient said that with his own kids he was alternating between “talking to the wall or yelling at them.”
A parent might be saying something urgent and time sensitive but the children pretend to not hear, forget it in an instant, or (my favorite) put their iPod earphones on!!
At other times the parents seem desperate to receive an answer to a
critical question (ANY answer, please!) but the children act like they don’t
comprehend your language. They switch off. Or they respond in monosyllables.
So how do we get them to sit down, tune in and take it in? How do we get
them to talk?
Often, long standing family structures and established patterns of communication need to be re-examined in families. This means understanding what the conversations signify to the parents vs. their children.
We need to also look at how our communication with our partners, parents,
and even co-workers feeds into how we talk with our children. What is our
body-language, tone and timing when we try to get the kids to listen? And
are WE listening to them when they do talk?
While some of this exploration is best done with a family therapist who
specializes in working with families, here are some things we can do at
Remember that open, two-way communication takes a while to establish. Be patient with your child. And be patient with yourself. It takes time and effort to re-do old patterns.