How do I get my child to listen to me?

Ok, I keep reading all these articles about “How do I get my child to listen to me?” and other things to this same point. I had to raise three children by myself and that was a struggle for me also. They are all grown now and still have sibling rivals now and then but when they were small I came up with a concept that worked for them. My concept may not work for everyone’s children but thought I would share it and maybe it will help someone else.

I was at my wits end and was obsessed with trying to find a way to have my children listen to me and a way to punish them for their wrong doings because I wanted them to be good people when they grew up. I prayed about this everynight for a very long time, I thought about it day and night and then one day I came up with this solution, tried it and it worked.

This solution took me a couple of weeks to get fixed before I could use it and after I started using it, I had to add to it as things happend. But I sit down and started making a list of everything I had to get on to my children for doing, (backtalking, hitting each other, fighting, etc, etc, etc.) I don’t remember what all it was, but I do remember I had a lengthy list of things that three different children got in trouble for doing on a daily basis.

After my list was finished I catagorized all of the bad behaviors into three different catagories. One, not so bad misbehaviors – things that weren’t so bad but things they didn’t want to do but had to do like taking a bath, brushing their teeth, etc., the medium misbehaviours were things that wouldn’t hurt themselves or somebody else, and really bad misbehaviors were things they did that would hurt themselves or someone else.

After sorting thru all the misbehaviors and getting them in the correct three catagories, I rewrote my list of misbehaviors on a piece of poster board. My first catagory was all writen in the same color of marker, my second catagory was written in another color of marker and my last catagory was all written in RED marker. Each catagory was seperated with a black line. I left a large space at the end of the poster board for three pockets across the bottom.

I then measured and cut three pieces of poster board and stapled them to the bottom of my list making three pockets of the same size across the bottom of the list.

I wrote some punishments down myself on a sheet of paper and then I sit down with my children and as I read off each misbehaviour I asked them how they thought they should be punished for doing that. They would tell me a punishment and then if I didn’t think it was harsh enough or if I thought it was to harsh then I would explain to them why it should be more or less of a punishment. We did this with the whole list until we came up with agreeable punishments. They seemed to have fun with it.

When we were done establishing a punishment for each crime. I cut out large tear drop shapes out of constuction paper that coordinated with the three colors I used to write the punishments down with. Then I wrote one punishment on each tear drop and put the tear drops in the matching pockets.

I explained to my kids that everytime they misbehaved they had to check the chart to see which color of tear drop they had to draw out of the pockets for their punishment. When they would misbehave I would just say, “Ok it’s time to go look at the chart and take our punishment.” While using this system they would get mad because they were getting into trouble but they did not throw a fit like they did before. They would pull their tear drop out and were anxious to see what the punishment was and then would cry because they had the punishment but would take the punishment without throwing a fit. It was really a great experience to not have to argue with them anymore.


The other half of this system that I think helped it work was our star charts. I made a chore chart for each child with age appropriate chores including brushing teeth, taking baths, getting dressed, putting your shoes on, making your bed (which consists of just throwing a comforter on the bed as best as they could), doing your homework, not hitting anyone, not yelling at anyone, practically everything that was on the tear drop chart. At the end of the day they got to put a star or somekind of sticker on each thing that they did good. At the end of every three days they would get some kind of reward depending on the number of stars or stickers they had. The more stars and stickers the better the reward. I had to set up rewards like I did the punishments. Rewards would be money, or me doing something with them that I hadn’t had time to do, or small things I had collected in a box and saved for rewards. Anything they liked would work.


For long time things, like if they wanted to see a movie, go skating with some friends, or go see a movie at the theater or what ever it might be we made up contracts. On a plain piece of paper, I would write what they wanted to do and what they had to do to earn it. The dates of the time limit and we would both sign it. If you do this one, you have to be reasonable about the time limit. You have to make things doable for your child. If you know your child has bad anxieties and then you have the agreement to last for way longer than you know that they can wait, that is not fair to your child and the contracts are not going to work. If you know your child can wait for something a week then a week is a good timeline but if you know in your heart that your child will start getting anxieties about the contract going on the second day of making it then start out making the contracts for just two days and then if this goes well after a few times try to extend the contract to three days. Please don’t set them up for failure or nothing will work.

I am no expert on children and don’t claim to be. This is just an idea for you, if you are having troubles with your children listening and throwing fits and is just something I done myself about 20 years ago.

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