See if this sounds familiar:

Mom: “Johnny, please put the bag of chips back in the kitchen.”

Johnny: “I wasn’t the only one eating them! Why do I have to put them away? It’s not fair!”

Not the response you were hoping for.

Or, consider this:

Mom: “Johnny, please put the bag of chips back in the kitchen.”

Johnny: “OK mom,” (and he does it).

Obviously, much better.

Your kids receive many parental requests each day. They will develop some type of habit in responding to those requests. Generally speaking, they will develop a habit of either “fast listening” or “slow listening.”

Fast listening is when your kids respond with respectful words and respectful actions. For example, when you ask them to brush their teeth, they can say “OK” and do it, or they can respond with a respectful question or comment.

Slow listening is when your kids respond by ignoring, arguing, defiance, or any response that is disrespectful.

Bad habits often start small and grow bigger. Occasional instances of slow listening gradually become more frequent. If you let them go unchecked, you can have disrespectful kids on your hands before you know what hit you.

If you want to teach your kids to be respectful fast listeners from the very start, here are a few ideas that will help:

1) Review fast listening. Sit down with your kids and explain what fast listening is (see above). Give them a few examples of how fast listening will sound and look to a typical parental request.

2) Require fast listening. When you ask your kids to do something, expect them to respond respectfully, or in other words, to fast listen. If they don’t, remind them in a warm but firm way. I call this “on the spot coaching.” Do what you can to help your kids make the right response.

3) Reward fast listening. When your kids respond respectfully to a parental request, let them know that you noticed and appreciate their effort to be respectful. Warm, encouraging positive feedback from a parent can go a long way in helping your kids develop good habits.

4) Respond to slow listening. Finally, when your kids slow listen, respond immediately. Your response should clearly communicate that slow listening is not acceptable. You may give them a chance to correct their response, as I described in #2 above. You may use a Time Out or other negative consequence. But respond you must, if you want your kids to learn the lesson that slow listening is a one-way ticket to nowhere.

Fast listening is simply a respectful response to a parental request. It is a habit that you definitely want your kids to develop. The fact is, your kids will develop many habits as they grow up. Make sure fast listening is one of them.

They’ll thank you for it.

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