16 answers

How Do I Get My Boys to Listen???

I need help on how to get my boys to listen to me and do what I ask. My 3 boys are 7,5,and almost 4. They all share a room until we can sell our house and get a bigger one. Mornings are my main problem. Ever since school ended for the summer I can't get them moving in the morning. I send them to their room to get dressed and they will be in there for an hour or more and still not get dressed. I go in their every now and then to get them going but they seem to ignore me. By the end of it all I am very frustrated and to the point of yelling. I don't know how to get them to listen and do what I ask. I have the listening problem at other times but my main frustration is in the morning. If anyone had any suggestions I would love to hear them.

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Start setting a timer giving each child ample time to do what they are told. If they do not get it done, time outs, priviledges taken away and be matter of fact. Make them responsible for their choices, plain and simple. If they choose not to listen, then consequences. Once they have no TV, sit in their room and do nothing a few times then I bet they listen!

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The timer is your friend! I use "Tickety" for times when I think my daughter will fight and/or argue over doing something.

So, it goes like this: "You need to clean your room. I'm going to set Tickety for 5 minutes - if I don't see a differenct, I will clean the room and I use trash bags to clean." I will usually give her one "free try" where she didn't make any progress, but I ask if she would like to try again and offer suggestions on how to make a difference.

Kids can't argue with the timer and there is no negotiation with Tickety - time stops for no man! So, sit the boys down and tell them that starting in the morning, they have 5 (or 7) minutes to get dressed. If they don't accomplish this before Tickety rings, they will ...(have to give up a toy; loose a privelege) Or you could tell them that if they aren't done before Tickety rings, you'll pick their clothes for them. Then pick some really strange thing and that is what they have to wear that day.

It will take a little work to get this going. The first few times, they won't believe you - so you've got to be prepared to follow thru on your threat!

I used to also use a "time Out Box". If she didn't get dressed before Tickety rang, I got to pick one toy to but in the Time Out Box and she had to earn it back. I ended up with 2 large boxes full of toys before she got the point! But, eventually she would earn her things back.

Whatever you try, good luck! This is (for me) the hardest part of parenting!

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Getting them dressed isn't the only issue here, right? It sounds from that example that they easily distract each other - not unusual in boys these ages. So make it a fun game for them to obey you quickly. For example, when it's time to get dressed (an I disagree with earlier responses of letting them stay in pj's all day - get dressed and get to work) or to pick up toys, or empty the dishwasher, or whatever, make it a race. "Let's see who can be dressed the fastest" or "who can get the most toys put away in five minutes". Don't wait for them to respod, just say "On your mark, get set, Go!" At first, they'll probably just stare at you like you've grown another head. That's when I start "I'm gonna win" and start doing the activity (I get dressed in my own room :) ). You will need to stay in with them to keep them on task, and be a cheerleader with them. When they are all done, give them a big "Yay!!" and congratulate them for a job well done. They get mommy time, you get stuff done without having to yell.

1 mom found this helpful

You can make it a game to get ready in the morning. Check out www.childrensmiraclemusic.com . This is a game for morning and night routines. It works on a reward system and you don't have to nag or yell anymore. It has worked well for us.

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As I'm reading this I'm wondering what the issue is ;-) Your kids are entertained enough by themselves in their room that they can keep themselves entertained for hours on end? If the only thing is you want to get out the door in the morning and thats the only time they're not listening, then I'd vote to let them play. The most important thing you can do to develop their curiosity allow for brain maturation is to allow for uninterrupted playtime. Its summer! Let 'em at it!

If there are more times than not that they aren't listening then they aren't taking you seriously. You need to look at when/how you approach them to get them to listen. 1. State your expectation (we're leaving in 5 mins) 2. Follow through. (if they aren't dressed so be it, put em in the car and go) The punishment is they go as is, if they are naked, in PJs whatever, thats how they roll. Trust me, they'll only do it once!

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be a drill sargent. give them an exact time to be dressed by, tell them the consequence (like no playing outside), and let them know when their time is almost up. and don't give in and let them have their way


Why is it so important to you that they get dressed in the morning?

When you can get clear on this answer and communicate it to your boys...
You might what to find out why your children like to stay in the PJs. The answer might surprise you.

What you are doing is assuming that your values are theirs.
It is time for some real communication to take place.

With my whole heart,

Getting them to get dressed is pretty easy-just make a new rule for the three oldest ones. No breakfast for anyone who is not fully dressed. If one of them shows up in the kitchen in pajamas, remind them of the rule and stick to it-tell them you'll be happy to give them something to eat just as soon as they are sitting there dressed. Getting them to listen in other areas will take longer : ). You will have to say what you mean and mean what you say-consistantly. Tell them what you expect them to do and what will happen if they don't and then make sure you follow through with the consequence if they don't do what you asked (after 1 reminder since they are still pretty young).

I love tickety!! lol. I never heard of that before but it could work great...I was thinking since it is 3 boys and they are competative I am sure as brothers, use that to their advantage. Just before they go to bed the night before say you and dad were talking and wondering which of the boys could get dressed the fastest in the morning. see what happens the next day.
perhaps the next day have a one on one with your slowest kid and say you know your brothers really admire you. they do what you do...want to try an experiment with me? tomorrow get up and dressed as fast as you can and see what your brothers do.
I used this on my 7th graders when I was substitute teaching...I would pull aside my unruliest kid (usually a boy...lol) and tell him the power he had over the class and ask him to experiment with me. It worked great, and the kids love the recognition afterwards. I love the way you got the kids to work on their assignments, that was awesome--I knew you could do it, but I had no idea you could do it so well!
in the brother situation, I love watching you help your brothers. Thank them for ANYTHING you can think of they did positive in the morning. take the negative back out of it for all of you.
I'm so happy you are awake.
also choices you are okay with whatever they choose.
I liked the clothes one the other mom said...you can get dressed now, or I will come and dress you (and pick some funky clothes)
and follow through on anything you say
another thought on the competition side of things you can have two brothers run the timer for the third brother. so that only one boy is in the room at a time, that might help with the distractions.
I would love to hear what you decide to do, and how it works out for you. We often hear the frustration stuff on here--I like hearing the fun part of finding solutions too...and hang in there, you are a good mom. we all get frustrated--and somehow we all get over it. haha.
Good luck!

I found that punishment was not working with my normally very agreeable daughter. We were having the same issue getting ready and basic mouthiness. We found a jar and predetermined what her reward would be when it got full of cottonballs (It could not be another barbie or something she had, she chose rollerskates, but you can go with your budget or child, a trip for ice cream etc)
I broke it into 4 times a day,
Getting ready for school without a fuss one cottonball
No mouthiness through the morning one cottonball
being pleasant after school one cottonball
getting ready for bed with one request one cottonball.
The first few days she was lucky to get one cottonball, but by the end she had wonderful behavior and didn't need it anymore. It actually changed her behavior, I also realized that the most difficult time for her was afternoon. It has been 2 months and just now is she starting to revert back to her mouthy attitude, so we are now getting one a star that can be turned in for 1/2 hour of televion. FYI I think it took her over 2 weeks to fill the vase.

It was amazing to me, but with the reward system instead of punishment I found more change in behavior for the long run. Of course we still disapline as well. Good luck. I would give each child there own container so they work together and maybe also have a collective one that they need to work on together if all three get there cottonballs you will put one in to another jar that could be for a special outing or something like that. I hope it works!

Have you heard of love and logic? They have books as well as seminars around town. It is a great philosophy. I also have three strong willed kids who rarely do exactly as I say, the love and logic wil help. Also find out what their currency is. For example, if my older son doesn't do what I ask I won't let his friends come over or give him rides to his friends houses. And I don't give warnings, it is just action. I know this may sound harsh but it is about equitable relationships, if they want things from me they are respectful and listen, it works: No yelling, no threats, no drama.

Start setting a timer giving each child ample time to do what they are told. If they do not get it done, time outs, priviledges taken away and be matter of fact. Make them responsible for their choices, plain and simple. If they choose not to listen, then consequences. Once they have no TV, sit in their room and do nothing a few times then I bet they listen!

I think it's easier to have the same schedule during the summer as the school year. It's too hard to undo the summer when school starts up again. Then we can all enjoy the summer together. Also recommend love and logic.

it's summer!!! Why don't you leave it all looking more like a pajama day(s) ~ give them some freedom of being happy and whatever they want to do as long as it does not hurt anyone, and just enJOY with them the day(s). Listen to them with your heart, and see what they like and what they do, they had enough orders and tasks to accomplish in schooltime, they need some rest, too, as well as you!
I home schooled my boys till their 3rd grade, and ever since they went to public school, until graduation, I saw only A's in their records. Why? because while they were at home, I did not impose anything, but WE PLAYED school: we played math, and then we played literature classes, and I was watching them closely what they like to do, and went from there, entering into their games and carrying the activities on to the useful shores, so to say. It requires some of the parents' creative approach but it is absolutely worth it.
Once you have a REAL reason for them to get dressed, then GIVE THEM THIS REASON !!! Explain why and what is required: you get dressed, you get breakfast. You don't get dressed, you go hungry until lunch, nomatter what: no snacks!!! and hod to your word firmly, stick to your guns once you announce the rules. they will figure out real quick and do to their own and your advantage what you ask for. But if they don't they need to see that your word is firm.
otherwise yes, I strongly suggest you, M., leave them more into their own world, let them laugh and make pillow fights, and jump and skip and roar and laugh again: they are GROWING, they need it so much !

You might like the book "How to Talk so Kids will Listen and LIsten so Kids will Talk." It was completely life-altering for me and I loved it! No complicated plans or punitive philosophy--just straight-up better ways to make myself clear so I wasn't getting frutrated and yelling. It's in cheap paperback and you can find it for next to nothing online.

It's 8:45, and my boys are still loitering in their pj's because we don'thave anythign urgent to do outside the house. When we do, we often talk about it as I tuck them in, so they understand why getting dressed matters ("We can't go to library story time in our jammies!"). Then I help them pick out clothes and get going right away in the morning. Sometimes I set a reasonable time limit, like, "I'm going to go shower. . . I need you to be dressed with your shoes on and teeth brushed when I get out of the shower." And then when I get out, they are eager to show me how fast they are and I make a happy fuss over their progress. If my littler one whines that he can't do something, sometimes I'll say, "Ohhh, I know who can help with that--your brother knows how to help with that!" and the older one (pleased and flattered) will help the littler one (relieved and no longer fristrated) so I can keep getting ready and we don't have a total meltdown roadblock on our way to getting ready.
Perhaps some small incentive would help with morning listening--like whoever comes to the kitchen dressed and cheerful after being asked only once gets to choose their own mini-box of treat cereal, but if there's fussing, it's just ordinary raisin bran or whatever. Not to overdo incentives, but maybe that or something similar would get them plugged back in to listening to you. (But I agree with others that sometimes it doesn't matter and a pajama morning is no big deal. . . . )
Good luck!

When the kids are in school, they have a routine. In the summer they do not, unless you make one. Make a list of jobs that need to be done each day and time for reading together and playing together before they go off and play with friends. You will all get your "buckets" filled and have a sense of satisfaction at seeing the house clean. I put songs on and we dance around for a little bit and have fun and then we help clean rooms, do laundry and dishes together and vacuum, trash, etc. Then we can all go outside and play together, have a picnic outside for lunch, etc. I also put 1/2 - 1 hr. of "quiet time" in there so we can all relax and have some alone time. The little ones nap and the older ones read or get creative drawing or writing stories. Then they go play with friends the rest of the afternoon and I can get things done I need to while they are playing and not feel like I have to clean all day. If they have something to look forward to after helping around the house, they usually hurry along and do what is asked of them. If my kids complain about jobs, I give them another one until they stop. They quickly learn that what I am asking of them isn't that much and they can get it done quickly. I try and stay positive about my jobs so they have good attitudes too. It's also fun to make a game out of it for them and then we all have fun.

I completely agree with the timer (tickety-that's cute!). They can't argue with the timer and after a few times they know when the buzzer rings they "lose" if they have not accomplished their task. This works wonders in my home. I love the timer and use it constantly for cleaning rooms, brushing teeth, and other chores. I always give the kids a choice before hand..."you can clean your room but if the timer goes off and you are not done then I will clean it for you." They have learned by now that when I do their jobs for them they suffer things getting thrown away or losing a priviledge, etc. Sometimes when I see they are working hard and the buzzer rings before they are done I will give them a bonus 5 minutes so they can finish. Get a timer, it may be hard at first and take several tries but they will get the hang of it. Also, just so you know, my kids stay in their jammies in the summer until lunchtime or we have to go somewhere. I mean, sometimes I stay in my jammies that long, why make them get dressed? :)

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