My kids don’t listen!

Kids Dont ListenDear Dr. Renaud:

My kids don’t listen to me. I feel like I’m yelling at them and threatening them all the time. I don’t like myself, and I’m sure my kids don’t like me much either, but I feel as though it’s the only way I can get them to behave. I get so embarrassed in public when they don’t listen and they act like brats. Help!

Pulling out my hair

Dear pulling out my hair:

First and foremost, you have to take charge. Many parents these days have essentially given over all their power to their children; the kids are in charge and that needs to change. Basically, parents aren’t actually parenting and that’s the problem. Too much time is spent negotiating with kids, trying to get them to agree. This needs to stop. You also need to make sure you’re not trying to be their friend and worrying whether they like you. In order to take the power back, you need to set rules, create structure and routines, which is difficult to do when you let the kids drive the bus. My question is, why? Why are you letting the youngest and most inexperienced members of the family take charge? Does that make sense to you? It doesn’t to me.

Adults need to decide what’s going to happen, when it’s going to happen, and why — period. Gaining the control back may take time and effort but the payoff is worth it. Think about the amount of time you waste with simple tasks, such as getting the kids to bed at night. Alternately, if you set up a structured schedule it would be much easier and less time-consuming. And, if your kids argue, you can point out the schedule, that they’ve agreed upon, and remind them it’s no longer a negotiation. If your kids have had input from the beginning then they can’t complain later that schedule is unfair. The bottom line is, you need to make the final decisions and stick to them. The consistency that comes with routines and schedules will result in less arguments the longer you stick to it.

You’ll be amazed how much nicer life can be and how much more time you have when you’re not wasting it arguing, cajoling, negotiating and begging your kids to do things. You’ll all like each other a lot more, too.

Dr. Renaud