“How do you get your 5 year old to behave? Mine won’t!”
“My daughter just won’t do as she’s told. In fact, she’ll do exactly the opposite!”
“My child is super sweet, but, most of the time, he acts as if he hasn’t heard me and won’t listen to me.”
“Why can’t my kids follow directions? Help!”
If you’ve experienced one (or all) of these things before and heard your inner voice while reading those statements, learn that you are not alone. Making parenting decisions, raising a family, worrying about whether what you’re doing is wrong or right – these are already tough things that we have to go through every single day.
As mothers, we’ve been put under pressure that the way the child behaves reflects our parenting style. Some people would judge you and tell you that if your kids act out, it means that you’re not doing it right. WRONG! You have to understand that this is not your fault, and that it doesn’t mean that you’ve done something wrong.
Kids are different in nature. Some are more attentive to details and can easily grasp instructions, while some others are more determined and strong-willed, and this is where the struggle comes in. Before we discuss all these “strategies on how to get a 5 year old to behave (or in any age for that matter), you have to always remember that there isn’t right or wrong way to parent a kid. It’s just about understanding what their needs and desires are, to be able to communicate well with them.
Let’s get started!
1. It’s Not That Hard – Get Their Attention First
So this is where it all boils down – most of the time, we inattentively are trying to tell our kids what to do even without getting their full attention. Them, answering to you, doesn’t necessarily mean that you have their attention. There are two ways to determine that you have their full attention, and that is when you are making eye contact, and you are on their eye level. This means that you have to go down to their level to be able to do this.
2. Keep Them Simple
No matter how grown-up you think they are, that doesn’t mean that they can easily follow all of your instructions. Remember, they’re not being disobedient just because they wanted to. This kind of behaviour simply shows that they can’t follow your orders – maybe because they’re overwhelmed, or maybe because they don’t understand what these are for.
Kids are smart – they want to understand what they’re doing, and if they don’t, chances are, they won’t do it no matter how many times you yell at them. Just give one direction at a time. Instead of yelling, “Hey Chloe, take off your shoes and put them in the shoe rack, then let’s go and take a bath!” While some kids won’t have problems processing this, some kids are just overwhelmed with too much instructions going on.
If us adults, are having difficulties coping up if we’re being bombarded with one task after another, despite the fact that we’re still working on another one, we easily get exhausted just by thinking of it, right? Just think about what these complicated and numerous instructions can do to a small and developing mind.
It may not sound simple, but as soon as you get the hang of it, you’ll see that they’ll be more cooperative. Give one instruction at a time. Don’t forget that you level with them and keep eye contact. Once you’re done with the instruction, wait for them to follow-through. Don’t forget to praise them for the good behaviour that they’ve shown.
3. Tell Them What To Do
Are you the type of parent that says “NO” and “Don’t” most of the time?
“Hey Tim! Don’t jump on the sofa!”
“Honey, please don’t touch that.”
“Paige, you’re not supposed to lick the floor.”
We’ve been there. It’s easier to tell them what they’re not supposed to do, but kids their age prefer to be told what they’re supposed to do, instead of what they’re not supposed to do. Does it make sense? This is backed up according to research and this method works better than the “do not” statement.
So instead of telling Tim not to jump on the sofa, try saying “Tim, please sit on the sofa,” in a gentle manner. Afterwards, after the kid has complied, you have to tell them your reasons why jumping on the sofa isn’t a good idea, so you can add “You might fall down and hurt your back, and Mommy doesn’t want that to happen to you.” You see, if they understand the reason behind every instruction that you’re giving, it’s going to be a lot easier to communicate with them, and making them listen to you is going to be a lot easier as well.
4. Don’t Ask – Unless You Have a Choice
instead of asking, “Can you please eat your breakfast?”. The chances are, they’ll say no. So unless there’s a choice, you don’t ask. You see how this is better? Or maybe you can ask, “Do you want pancakes with apple syrup, or your favourite cereals with milk?”
Bear in mind that you have to let them know that you’re telling them that they’re supposed to eat breakfast, instead of asking them if they want to eat their meal. This avoids the “No” and disobedient behaviour most of the time.
5. Practice With Activities
For your child to develop listening skills, they need to be reinforced and practiced – A LOT of it. So one thing you can do is to be consistent with your instructions, and at the same time, you can incorporate this with different practice activities so they can have fun at the same time.
There are different games that you can play with your child such as, Simon Says, Follow the Leader, and Red Light Green Light. These are fun games that will practice their listening skills, and at the same time, help them understand the concept and importance of listening.
Alternatively, there are also some other Activities and worksheets that you can try. I’ve listed them below:
This activity lets your child learn how to follow directions, and at the same time, allows them to build fine motor skills. These activities can be completed independently, with a comprehensive step-by-step instructions. This is also amazing for homeschooling moms!
This is a 210-page workbook contains various sheets that let kids color, cut and paste activities to practice their listening skills. Each lesson has each activity and objective, so you can also track your child’s progress.
6. Be Consistent
Lastly, you can’t expect them to fully grasp the concept of listening by doing these tips a few times. You have to be consistent and practice these things by creating a routine. You can create a daily schedule for your kids, and make sure that you follow-through. If you have to print out morning, mealtime and bedtime routines that they can easily understand and follow, do it!
Building a routine makes it easier to build and breed cooperation and even helps your child understand, follow and listen to your directions. This is also a great opportunity for you to stop yelling, because once your child understands the importance of listening, you can avoid consistently yelling at them telling them what they’re supposed to do.
If you need more resources, I have a few more available resources that you can check out below:
Aine Austria is a content creator, freelancer, entrepreneur, essential oils educator, nacho lover, and a mom to an adorable toddler.