Make Eye Contact. Before you discipline your child make eye contact. Get on your child’s level. Making eye contact will help your child focus on what you are saying. Gently but firmly repeat what you want your child to do. For instance, “Jill, I need you to pick up your toys. Please do this quickly so we can move on to the next thing.” “Tommy, I told you to stop calling your sister names. If you cannot obey then you will not be able to play.” It is important to address your child with her name. Again, it will redirect her attention back to what you are saying.
Keep it Short and Simple. When giving a command, keep it easy to understand and in no more than two sentences. Too much talking will confuse, cause the child to forget, or simply to lose interest in listening.
Playback. Once you ask your child to say something, have her repeat it back. I have found this to be the most effective way to get my children to listen. For young children it clarifies the command. For older children, you established that your child knows what to do and now your child knows it. My youngest used to hate sitting in a cart at the grocery store. So, on the way there I would explain to her exactly what was going to happen and have her repeat back, “I will sit in the cart.” My husband called it a Jedi mind trick.
Explain. You never need to explain yourself as a parent. Be careful, giving an explanation is helpful and kind but a child should not need it to obey. By explain, I really mean you explain what is going to happen in clear terms. It is a preemptive strike that is very powerful.
Let Your Child Talk. Allow your child to complete her thoughts and feelings before interjecting, especially if you ask a question. Remember you are parenting for the long haul not just in this moment. You need to establish that you will listen to your child. Besides, I have two children that if I did not allow them to speak they would probably explode. They would be so distracted by not spitting out a sentence that they would not hear me.
Advance Notice. Another method that I had great success with was giving my children notice before leaving a place or before bedtime. I only give about five or ten minutes notice but it helps them settle into the idea that change is coming.
Calm Children Listen Better. Do not waste your time talking to a child who is hardly able to control herself. She is not hearing you.
Stay Firm. Do not sway or change your mind based on a child’s emotions or demands. It will set you up for a long road of giving in to your child and raising a spoiled brat. If you said bedtime is at 8pm, then it is at 8pm. If you tell her she cannot have a toy at the store then under no circumstances buy it.
Stay Consistent. Children like to know what to expect. They are creature of habit that find comfort in routine even ones that do not benefit them like bedtime. The less consistent you are the more wiggle room your child will feel she has to negotiate.
You Don’t Ask, You Tell. Simple. Effective. Short and sweet. Now, some kids respond perfectly to “Will you please clean up that mess you left on the table?” However, some children need to be told. Keep in mind, you can be cheery about this. No need to be harsh. In a friendly way say, “Johnny, clean up the mess you left on the table.”