"Don’t make me ask you again!" is a repeated phrase in my house. You may know it. It’s filled with great intention, only to largely be ignored like most of what we say to our growing kids with selective hearing.
They have a frustrating habit of not doing what we say, ignoring our basic but necessary demands, such as don’t leave your half-eaten toast on the floor or don’t use your sister as a chair. It’s a tedious part of parenting, but why is it that kids don’t do as we say?
They Don’t See The World As We Do
Eating toast off the floor or licking up the spilt milk like a cat is not a problem to them. They don’t see the potential for germs or wonder if they are hitting the boundaries of civilised behaviour. Basically, they don’t see the world as we do. So, when we say, "It’s bedtime, tidy up," they fight back because they’re in the middle of building an epic fort or they’re so close to the finish line in whatever game they’re playing.
To counteract their resistance, get down on their level, recognise what they’re doing, and acknowledge it with them. Then you can throw in the curveball that it is bedtime and they have five minutes more to play. Get to know what is going on in their head and see the world as they do, so they can see the world as we do.
Their Brains Are Still Developing
Our kids are still growing and learning. The part of the brain which makes decisions, alerts our focus, anticipates events, and controls our impulses - the pre-frontal cortex - is still making strides in developing right through our teenage years. Their understanding of the world around them grows as their brain grows.
Expecting our kids to move effortlessly from what they are doing to what we want them to do is a bit of a push just yet. There will come a time when our kids effortlessly choose to listen to us. At the moment, there’s a bit of an internal struggle happening which is perfectly natural until their brain develops more.
As much as it pains me to brush this one away with a "they’re human" comment, it’s actually quite a big part of being who we are. No one likes to be pushed around or for choices to be made for them. We like to assert our independence, even from a young age, and the more we are pushed and pulled, the more we may fight back.
Choose your battles and recognise that our kids are growing and learning.