If you are like many parents I see, you know that it can be a problem getting your child to listen to you and actually do what you have asked them to do. It may take you several times repeating the same thing over and over. You may even result to shouting or even grabbing and dragging. This problem isn’t one that appears in a day; it has been allowed to build over time. True, effective training starts from birth. But if you’re already in those shoes, the good news is: you can undo the habit!
Letting your child hear the authority in your voice is key. You are the number one authority in his life, not the police or his teacher; It’s your voice that matters more than anyone’s.
There is no need to confuse authority with strictness or harshness. Authority can be communicated gently and lovingly and should never be communicated in a belittling manner.
Your goal is not to make the child feel small and you feel big. He is already small and you are already big! Have mercy on him. Even if he is a lanky teenager, try to view him as small. You are the adult. Not just any adult. You are his parent.
How do you effectively communicate your authority? Here are three things to remember in every situation.
1. Everything is filtered through love
If you decide on that now, it will be the best decision you can make. When you give an instruction (even if right now you have to repeat it umpteen times) filter it through love. When you must raise your voice, filter it through love. When you are tempted to shout ‘naughty boy/girl!’, don’t do it, that’s not love.
Keep this up and what will happen is that your child will begin to understand that love is the foundation here. Girls will naturally feel loved, boys will naturally feel respected. The fruit of this will be willingness to obey i.e. it will be very easy for your child to choose to listen even when it’s inconvenient for him or her.
2. You are the adult, he is the child
This does not mean you have the right to speak to him disrespectfully as to patronise or discredit him. It simply means you have the privilege of controlling the situation by being mature, meaning not bringing yourself down to his childish level. In a sense, you have got a head start. It’s great!
So, if your child is screaming and shouting, how about you choose not to shout.
If he is hitting you and running from you, how about you choose not to chase. Difficult for some but keep it up and you’ll see the outcome.
If he is throwing disrespectful comments, how about you don’t engage but choose to speak mature words.
If he is simply delaying without necessarily meaning to be disrespectful, verbally remind him of the importance to obey quickly. Tell him of the consequences of not listening right now.
In every situation, you are the adult and you are the parent.
3. Listen to your child and pay attention
This is a big one! Do not disregard what your child is saying, whether he’s 2, or 7 or 17! Don’t be demanding and dominating. Show you are listening by responding to what he is communicating.
You’ll be surprised, you may even find that there was a misunderstanding. Yes, there can be huge misunderstandings between an adult and a two year old! For instance, you need to put his boots on him to head out and you think he’s screaming because he doesn’t want to but simply all he wanted to do was have a go putting his little feet in himself.
Or you have told him many times not to throw his toys down the stairs, only to realise, through paying attention, that he does it because his small hands can’t carry them and hold on to the rail to walk down at the same time. Or maybe to his imagination, it’s a huge slide for his toys to have fun on.
There can be huge misunderstandings at whatever age, all due to lack of listening and attention from the parent.
The truth is, the greatest leaders in history were able to have hundreds, thousands, millions follow them not by being demanding but by effective communication of authority. I believe when you keep in mind these three points above, you will begin to see a positive change in the way your child listens to your instructions, requests and suggestions.
Scriptures to Love
Philippians 2:5-11 is an mind-blowing truth about what true obedience looks like, reminding us that it is always done out of choice because of love and respect
Ephesians 6:4 is wonderful instruction to always keep in mind and heart, directly telling us what not to do but what to do instead
Romans 2:4 is overwhelmingly powerful, showing us just how God REALLY changes a rebellious heart and therefore if we become like Him we will undoubtedly see change too