Getting the Kids to Listen: Danny the Dragon Author Offers Some Tips

I was sent this lovely article written and published recently after a brief interview

by reseacher and writer Robert Bell.

I thought I’d share this with all of you

It’s time for dinner and you’ve called to your children three times so far to turn off the TV and come to the table to eat.  You start using threats of coming into the living room yourself to turn off the television, to ban TV for the rest of the night, or to eat their dinners for them, but they still don’t come. Sound familiar?

But aren’t kids supposed to have problems listening to their parents? Aren’t they, after all, just kids?  I asked children’s author, researcher, and humanitarian Tina Turbin, author of the Danny the Dragon children’s series and mother of three grown children, about getting kids to listen. “Teaching kids to listen can be a process, but in the end it’s entirely possible to have kids who listen to you, and in fact, this is actually how things should be,” Tina says.

Danny the Dragon Meets Jimmy, the first book of the acclaimed children’s series is celebrated not only for its engaging story and captivating illustrations, but it’s praised by parents and critics everywhere for the way it demonstrates important family values such as treating others how one wants to be treated, family togetherness, and helping each other. Jimmy’s family, blessed with the magical meeting of Danny the Dragon, is truly an ideal family. Clearly, it is a family in which the children listen to their parents.

Tina says that such a family isn’t just something you find in imaginative storybooks, but it can be the stuff of reality. “It was a challenge sometimes, but our kids listened to us.” How do you get your kids to listen to you? Tina offers some tips to parents who are anxious to find out.

First of all, maintain eye contact, looking at your child when you talk to him, Tina says. Talking over his shoulder while he watches TV or calling to him from another room is not conducive to communicating effectively. Turn off the TV for a minute and kneel down to your child’s level so that you’re facing each other, Tina advises, and then go ahead and talk to him. “A hundred percent of the time, he’ll understand you much better,” she says.

Be realistic in what you’re asking him to do. “Sometimes I see parents who ask their children to do age-inappropriate things that they’re just not yet capable of, and it overwhelms them,” Tina says. For instance, your child may have trouble folding his clothes, but he may be able to match socks together and fold them. Parents also expect their children to sit still in public places for hours at a time, but children are children and need to get out and run around. Instead of ordering your young kids to do the impossible task of staying silent and still at the bank, drop them off somewhere more kid-friendly. You may just be asking too much of them.

Related to this is that you can’t realistically expect your children to listen effectively and do what you say when they’re hungry or tired. How do you get along when you’re starving or after a poor night’s sleep? If you suspect your kid is hungry, get him a high-protein snack to give him a blood sugar boost, and then go ahead and repeat your demands. He’ll be far more likely to listen, Tina says.

Next, when you offer your child choices, only give him one or two at a time because too many choices can overwhelm him. Instead of asking, “What do you want to do?” ask “Would you rather help with the laundry or set the table?”

“It’s important to be clear and give as many specifics as possible to help your child understand what you’re looking for,” Tina says. It’s not enough sometimes to just say, “Set the table.” Tell them that in the next ten minutes, for example, the table needs to be set with plates, glasses, silverware, and cloth napkins.

Set a good example in your own listening. When your child tells you something, listen to him and show that you understood him.  “Sometimes I notice that parents will walk away in the middle of listening to their children to do something ‘more important’ or they won’t give any sign of having listened,” Tina says. Children are watching their parents all the time, absorbing what they see into their own behavior patterns. If you want your children to be respectful and listen, show them how you listen to others yourself.

Finally, be positive and supportive when your children do what you want. “When they do listen, say thank you or tell them they did a good job.” Aim to give your child at least one compliment on a daily basis, even if what he did didn’t go exactly as planned. “You’ll get more of what you support with positive remarks.”

Developing listening skills in your children isn’t usually an overnight task, but by following these tips Tina has to offer, you’ll find that soon there will be a recognizable change in how your kids respond to what you say, and perhaps your own family will begin to take the form of the ideal family in Tina’s Danny the Dragon children’s series.

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