Here are some things that will help:
- Connect before you direct. Relate to and be interested in what your child is doing. Enter their world and build some rapport before giving instructions.
- Speak clearly and concisely. Choose your words wisely. Your words will be more valuable and hold carry more weight this way.
- Get close, get eye contact, touch your child on the shoulder before you speak.
- Speak in a positive and assertive tone, not aggressive and not passive.
- Model cooperative behavior. What you model will come back to you.
- Check for comprehension.
- Give your child some choice and control. They will feel less of a need to be defiant if choice is a part of their world. You will get more buy in and more cooperation at times when you need it.
There is one more thing and it is HUGE. The most important way we can teach a culture of listening is to listen to our children when they want attention or when they want to speak. Acknowledge and recognize their bids for attention. When you get down to their level, face to face, and listen to children intently, and show interest, it models listening big time. When we let children know that we hear them and understand them, children will reward us with a level of trust that will strengthen the relationships immensely.
A strong relationship yields cooperative behavior…all without needing to use punishments or rewards.
It is this strong relationship that you will be able to call upon when you really need your child to listen to you. This is the way it works, during the early years, and beyond.