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Today, I want to talk about getting your kids to listen. I want to talk about a quick parenting hack that I absolutely have come to love. It’s so effective! There aren’t that many parenting hacks that truly do the job, but this one really works to keep things calm and get your kids to listen.
I stumbled onto this method one day when both of my boys were arguing over one pair of scissors. With both of them clinging onto it and trying to pull it out of his brother’s hands…not pretty. In fact, it looked downright scary.
I grabbed their hands, but didn’t want to start pulling on the thing myself as well, because I was afraid I might accidentally stab someone. Looking back, I also think I shouldn’t set pulling things out of their hands as the example, although sometimes there’s not much of a choice in that respect. So I calmly told the boys to stop. I still marvel at how calm I actually sounded then. I had to repeat my message a few times, but after a minute or 2, I got my kids to listen to what I had to say.
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How STOP helps you, mom
You’ve been looking for something that is clear cut and simple. Perhaps you need something that gets te situation fixed now! Or maybe, you want to stop yelling at your kid, but haven’t yet figured out how, this works. This method is extremely simple and will get the job done.
And I will explain to you how exactly it works, how to use it and why it’s so great 😃
STOP method creates space and balance
This method created space and balance because it’s an effective and immediate way to create calm in a situation. There’s no overwhelm in the situation anymore, because you’re giving yourself the time and tools to stay in control and to move on from where you are.
What the STOP method is
Basically, this is really simple. So simple, in fact, that STOP isn’t even an acronym. It’s just literally what you do. For as long as you need, and for as long as the children need, you stop everything. It’s as if the moment is frozen in time. Everyone stops talking, calms down and stop crying, everyone can hold on to what they had in their hands but they’ll no longer pulling. Everybody stops moving or making any noise and just breathes.
You’ll be surprised what this does!
It stops everything in it’s tracks. So that the natural avalanche of tantrums and emotions also gets stopped in it’s tracks. And once you’ve fully stopped, you can choose how to move on from there.
The benefits of this simple method
Stopping everything for just a few breaths has some great benefits. And it’s so easy to do! You always have 2 or 3 minutes to stop and calm things down. Yes, I know you’re all very busy and you might think you don’t always have this time. But trust me, you do.
Say it’s early morning and you’re trying to get the kids to daycare or school on time and things are just going downhill. Imagine for a moment, if you were to take those 2 minutes…what would happen? Yes, you’d lose those 2 minutes, but think a bit further ahead. A little bit further down the line. What if the rest of the way the kids were tagging along easily and you could get to daycare without any further delays? What if in this way you could stop the downhill trend? Wouldn’t that be quite awesome?
The benefits are as follows:
- It gives you time to think – in the moment that everybody has stopped moving, you can contemplate your next move. There’s no need for a snap decision, you can actually take the time to think about what would be the wisest course of action.
- No escalation or tantrums – it’s more likely for the kids to calm down and behave afterwards, as you prevent their fuse from blowing.
- It gives the kids a chance to resolve things. Too often, children fly off in a tantrum which prevents them from finding a solution on their own. But if you can stop this from happening in time and then ask them for their input, you’ll be surprised at how creative children are at finding solutions.
- It gets your kids to listen!
Why this gets your kids to listen
With toddlers, things can escalate real quick. One moment everything is fine, the next they’re on the floor screaming loud enough for the entire town to hear. Using this method stops the escalation in it’s tracks. Instead of going on their normal path of meltdown, you’re surprising your child by telling it to do absolutely nothing. You’re not doing any of the expected things either. Neither are you taking the toy away. And, you are not (yet) sending them to the naughty spot. It may take a bit to draw their attention to the fact that they’re suppose to stop and freeze in the moment, but they will. And just like adults, the simple action of breathing and not doing anything else will calm them down. The result will be that you get your kids to listen.
Basically, you are preventing things from escalating any further, which can happen fast with young children. On top of that, kids often have trouble enough explaining what’s happening and how they’re feeling about it (it’s sort of a big challenge for them), but having their emotions explode only makes it more difficult (i.e. totally impossible).
How to use the STOP method to get your kids to listen
Now, the actual work!
Back to the original scenario. The two boys are at the table, both want the scissors and there’s a lot of noise coming out of them.
- Physically head on over and stop what’s going on. So, if they’re waving scissors around, put your hands over their hands.
- Calmly, but firmly say “stop, we’re going to stop and not do anything for a moment.” They won’t respond immediately, so you’ll have to repeat. “Stop. You don’t have to let go of the toy, but I want you to stop screaming.”
- Repeat a few more times. Take the time to do this, even so it will only take a few minutes for things to calm down.
- In the time that you’re waiting, decide which course of action you’re going to take once things are calm. I’ll list out some options below.
- Once things are quiet, let everyone just breath for a bit. Take a close look at your kids faces, they’ll tell you whether they are really calm. Don’t try to move on too fast, but beware of letting them stay still for too long either. Kids aren’t too good at staying still.
- Move on. Execute the course of action you decided on earlier.
If all went well, you are still completely calm, never having lost your cool, and your kids are now more like their sweet selves as well. Chances are that you don’t need the naughty spot.
Where to go from here
Okay, so everybody’s calmed down and you’re now at the point where you’re just standing around and you don’t want to keep doing that to the point where you just feel silly.
Now that you have their attention and got the kids to listen, you can choose where how to proceed from a place of calm. Here are some suggestions:
- whatever happened needs a time-out, so your child’s sent to the naughty spot;
- Re-divide the toys / craft supplies;
- Confiscate whatever the argument was about (it’s what I always to with anything that’s been flying about; no throwing inside the house!);
- Let the kids sort it out, you’d be surprised how inventive they can be.
There are, of course, many other things you can do, but the above seems to cover most situations. Whatever you do, remember that you’ll need to be able and prepared to follow up on whatever consequence you’ve mentioned.
So, next time the kids go off the rails, tell yourself to STOP and then get the kids to do the same.