Does your child ignore you when you speak to them? Do they start humming or singing to tune you out when you require something of them? Do they act like they are in another world when you speak?If any answers are yes, here are some basic ideas you may wish to employ when communicating with a child who just doesn’t seem interested in what you have to say!
Like many parents, I am not a clinical behavioral specialist, though I am shy of a Child
Development degree; but, that does not mean we can’t all dip into the ocean of others’
experience to try on what will and will not fit within our happy family dynamics!
Therefore, take this as a buffet of options you have the freedom to consume, how you wish, and know it is my hope you succeed and flourish as you, like any parent, continue to learn and grow...and that truly is THE reward of parenting...that we GROW through the journey too!
That said, when those moments occur when the child is appearing either distracted or
bored, and there is no clinical reason for this that should be checked out by a
professional, and this is occurring for one of voluminous, so-called natural reasons, this
is the opportunity to possibly reassess our previous responses to this behavior and/or reinvent a new approach.
One idea is to apply a more staccato tone to your voice (not to indicate that you should
be “mean” but, to be more clear), with the underlying purpose as a way to pierce
through the fog of distraction, or ocean of diverse thoughts, or, even, boredom that may
be occurring in your child’s mind at that moment. So, by staccato, I mean communication, and communication styles can be like music...and have a rhythm if you will...therefore if you are not pronouncing your words, in such a manner as to get their attention, then you cannot connect with them...because they cannot hear you...their ears may hear you, but their mind will not be pulled in your direction. And, this does not necessarily mean you have to always utilize the staccato choice in voice diction; but, you may choose to emphasize words differently. Why? To encourage or motivate them, by meeting them where they operate from, in their personality... and by clarifying what you want and what they will get - by connecting to your request and/or communication. For this instance (or archetype), they are tuning out the conversation that they must clean their room, first, before going to the pool. In choosing to differently inflect how you communicate your request, you may discover the bridge they wish to cross to hear and respond to you. And, your tools to effectively communicate, in this instance (and as a general rule) could be to establish your immediate REQUIREMENT, the TIMETABLE to complete it and their PAYOFF for compliance. For example, you may say “Johnny, you must CLEAN your room, FIRST, before GOING to the POOL at 4 p.m.”...versus, saying “Johnny, you MUST clean your ROOM, first, before GOING to the pool at p.m.”. Most likely, with the aforementioned example, they will hear the clarity of requirement, timetable, and payoff in your request and be more motivated to connect...because you emphasized the correlating words to your immediate REQUIREMENT, the TIMETABLE to complete it and their PAYOFF for compliance. Also, by de-emphasizing MUST, but still reinforcing the idea that the cleaning is before going to the pool, a potential trigger to shut down has been minimized...as the word MUST may cause others to feel burdened by a chore request versus understanding a chore simply has a timetable to get a payoff or reward for compliance. Just an idea; but, hopefully, worthy of your consideration and application!
Another choice in piercing the veil of apparent disinterest, in a child, maybe in simplifying sentence structures, as already demonstrated. The Who (Johnny), What (a
dirty room that needs to be cleaned), When (before 4 p.m., implied by the
understanding that going to the pool will occur at 4 p.m.), Where (the location of
cleaning is the room stated and the destination of departure is the pool) are all enough to give the need to know information to a child. There is a time and place to offer WHY; but, find, for the most part, the WHY lengthens the request and tends to waste time for all parties. And, I am still learning the value of how discussing the WHY can bore a child or cause them to get back to what they enjoy more in their thinking or doing. When the WHY is asked by the child, or when the WHY is critical to know because it has a direct impact on choices and actions in the matter – then, I would venture to offer the WHY as a necessary component in the request.
Further, the WHY can often turn out to be an excuse for the parent to vent a grievance and this can turn off anyone from listening, big or little! But, when it is need to know information, logically the WHY should be offered or answered as part of the request and relevant conversation.
Finally, as this is a small cup to dip into the enormous river of ideas available to anyone
willing to learn beyond what they already know as a parent, I want to circle back to what
I stated about need to know information a child may want to hear. My running theory is that all people big and small have an innate and consistent goal in life...and that is to work fast, and get back to playing as fast as we can! Most, or all of us, in my experience, want to do the best we can, meet our deadlines and race home to our families and/or favorite activities and have a work to live...not live to work...mindset. So, I apply that to kids too because I do not see them as much different only at a different point in their learning curve...they want to get the job done and get back to play as fast as they can too!
With that said, when we apply that to our communication style, we may find even better ways to encourage the disinterested and motivate the bored to act upon our requests as parents. Hey, when you are willing to try something new, it may be a pleasant surprise,
to find your child, or children, become willing to do so too! Just stay open to new ideas and they will come!
Evita E. has been a happy customer of Nanny2U, is mom to an Autistic Angel and now is writing, doing photography, videography and creative content, with every available moment in a very dynamic and busy life!