Did You Hear Me?

Emily DaFoe

Do you have rocks in your ears? Can you turn your listening ears on? Did you hear what I asked you? Are you listening to me?

How many time a day do you have to remind your child to listen or to complete a task? For me it’s about 1 million! Of course I am exaggerating, but I can not express the frustration I get from my child not listening or acting up. These times are not always my finest moments of motherhood, but we are here to be real, and I sometimes I just don’t have any patience.

I have to sit back and ask myself, why does it bother me so much that he doesn’t listen to me. Does this go back to my need for control, is it that I expect should respect me, is it because he’s 3 and he’s testing and learning boundaries, or all of the above. Naturally it’s the latter, but I feel like learning good habits right off the bat set the tone for the house and the child I want to raise. Because I like structure and feel manners are vital, it makes me nuts when he chooses to have “selective hearing.”

My major mom fail with having him NOT listen is when he bolted out of Costco and ran into the parking lot. Yes, that did happen and it was terrifying. When I finally caught him and basically threw him into a planter to stop him, another mother approached me and told me what a great job I did at handling the situation. I thanked her while my hands trembled, and returned to discipline my naughty boy. Not only was I scared half to death, I was so mad at him for not listening and putting himself in danger. That was a huge turning point when I learned that changes needed to be made. Naturally, I went in and bought a leash. Just kidding, but I totally get them after that experience!

Here are a few things that I have modified in our household that have helped minimize distractions and keep him focus a little more on mom and dad. These also remind him that he’s not in charge of our family and that it’s important for him to know that he needs to listen to us.

  1. No TV. Yes, we watch TV and while his screen time is limited, if I need to sneak in some work or a Peloton ride before the morning commute, we watch Baby Einstein. It’s rare that we have a show on, but that is a privilege and if he’s not paying attention, then he doesn’t get it. Having the TV on in the morning became a fight because he didn’t want to get dressed or eat breakfast, which in turn set the tone for the day and it wasn’t great for anyone. Now, there is NO tv during the week and the mornings run a bit more smoothly and his listening and focus is more clear.

  2. Getting him ready first. For workdays, I always get him fed and dressed before I get myself ready. This might seem backwards, but if he’s ready to walk out the door, I minimize the need to ask over and over again to put on his shoes, grab his jacket and get in the car.

  3. I have a new mantra I say to him daily “Good behavior is rewarded, bad behavior loses privileges!” I am not giving him treats or gifts for good behavior, but we will go on an adventure or a walk, or blow bubbles if he’s being a good listener. If he’s not listening, we will not go to the park or the river because those are fun privileges to earn with respectful behavior. Ok, now you might be thinking I am a nutcase, and that’s totally fine…but I have a 3 year old only child who wants a LOT of attention. I have always told him that if he’s a good listener, polite, kind, and sweet, the world is his oyster. BUT if he’s not going to listen or is acting naughty, we won’t get to do as many fun activities.

  4. Picking my battles. There are times I feel like I am talking to a brick wall and need to lower my expectations. It’s now become a family theme that my dog and my child both don’t listen to me, which my husband kindly enjoys pointing out.

  5. Extra sleep. Yes, this is obvious that a tired toddler is a nightmare, but sometimes it’s a slippery slope. I have keep his nap schedule pretty strict when we are home which allows him to get solid rest, I get a break to catch up on my work and when he wakes up, we are all better and more respectful of one another.

So there are some things I try to remember when I am at the end of my rope with not listening and talk back. The talk back just started and will be a whole different conversation. If anyone has tips for creating good listeners, I am all ears…pun intended!

xx, Emily