Your 4 year old isn’t listening? These tips will help your child feel safe and ultimately improve their behavior.
A short while ago I was having a mommy crises.
I felt one of my sons was really going through a hard time. Lots of crying, whining, and meltdowns. Our babysitter even commented that he seemed “sad” and didn’t want to play with his siblings. I started watching him like a hawk and was shocked at what I saw.
He seemed down, defeated, and unhappy.
I cried and cried and cried until I was ready to think of a plan. A plan to get to the bottom of what was happening with my son. Turns out… it wasn’t such a mystery.
He felt lost in the hubbub of our large family.
My husband and I talked at length about what to do and then, starting the next day, waged a 4 pronged attack. Even after two days of the plan, the results were astonishing. I wouldn’t have believed it if it weren’t my own life.
Using the 4 keys below, we re-connected with him in such a meaningful way his tantrums basically went away, he was smiling again, and he became his normal happy self.
Helping Your 4 Year Old Learn To Listen
While it may seem counter intuitive, the best approach is not always knuckling down and getting more “strict.” Kids know the rules, they sometimes need to remember why they care about the rules in the first place.
Give Away Control You Don’t Need
A lot of behavior issues stem from one thing: feeling powerless.
A parent can relinquish control without endangering their child or giving them inappropriate freedoms for their age. They don’t *have* to use the red cup and it doesn’t *actually* matter if their favorite shirt and shorts don’t match. Children who feel they have a certain measure of control over their lives will be more likely to cooperate with your requests.
Children who feel they never get to decide anything will find other ways to exert their power. They’ll ignore you, they’ll procrastinate, they’ll say “okay” then not do it. Children need to have a sense they have some power and – if you don’t give it to them – they’ll prove they have it in ways you don’t like.
Be Sure You Have Your Child’s Heart
Ultimately, children end up obeying their parents and adopting their values because they grew up in an environment of love, acceptance, and support. A nurturing and loving connection is the foundation of parenting. If your child doesn’t feel understood, loved, or valued they won’t give a rip what you want them to do. You think a child should obey your every command because you are their mother.
A child knows deep down they have the choice whether or not to obey you, and without a strong nurturing bond, they won’t bother trying to please you.
So… how to be sure you have their heart? Keep reading.
Be More Playful
Kids play all day. It’s their default. It’s how they learn and how they bond. The best way to connect with your small child?
Become more playful.
This means laughing, tickling, roughhousing and being silly with your child. This is very hard for certain personalities, but take heart. It’s not about playing pretend for 3 hours, it’s about connecting with your child in a way they understand completely. This will help them feel safe and loved. When they feel safe and loved?
You guessed it. They want to cooperate.
Pay Actual Attention And Narrate To Stay In The Moment
I realized a while ago that it’s incredibly difficult to stay in the moment for me. My head is always spinning, thinking, and planning and this is not a good quality when it comes to spending time with my children.
I become a commentator. When I sit with them or join them in a game, I don’t necessarily have to take a role in the play. I can simply comment on it.
“You are building with LEGO. You love building.”
“Your Barbie can do flips. Wow, you like making her spin.”
“You are jumping up and down. That looks really fun, you are laughing a lot!”
You’ll feel completely ridiculous doing this until you see how your child reacts. Mine’s eyes light up and they feel so understood and loved. When I make sure and use this strategy in my normal interactions with them, the days are so much more peaceful. Less fighting, less tantrums, less arguing.
The long and short of it…
When children know you’re paying attention they feel loved.
When children feel loved, they are settled.
When children are settled, they are at peace.
When children are at peace, they are more cooperative.
If your child is refusing to listen or obey, don’t give more consequences. Give more time.
If you find it difficult to connect with your child or feel constantly distracted, overwhelmed, and distant… I have something for you. Sometimes it’s hard to stay in the moment and connect, but so much easier to reach for our phones and zone out. If this is you… get on my waitlist for the Slow Your Scroll workbook that’ll help you stop craving your phone and start living in the moment, enjoying your kids.
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