Helping Your Children Learn to Listen

An old behavioral problem that has become new again.

Posted May 20, 2020

 B. Klein
Source: B. Klein

Why parents, teachers, and friends are facing defiance: Social issues that include disrespect for parents, friends, and authority figures are more prevalent because of the rigidity of rules related to the coronavirus pandemic. The old more self-centered defiant behavior of your children is coming back to haunt parents. Children who are feeling trapped at home are taking out their anger against parents who they are close to and who they trust will not be unkind to them. Feeling needy, overly entitled, wanting to see their friends and go back to their established lifestyles has created regressive behavior—ways that children functioned at a much younger age.

Parents are also overwhelmed by home online learning. Understandably mom and dad want their son or daughter to be more compliant, thoughtful and, yes, obedient. Having your children at home with you all day every day is stressful, strenuous, and often even stifling for parents, children, and teenagers alike. Learning how to help your son or daughter with schoolwork while doing your everyday tasks, which often includes a full-time job, is difficult and time-consuming. Some parents frankly say that they think that it is a hopeless task.

How can parents instantly become skillful teachers? Is online learning really providing enough social interaction, which is an important instructional tool across all subjects? Educational research suggests that children learn better when working with peers than with adults. Time will tell if remote learning is effective. In my opinion, a great deal of important learning is lost when all work is done on the computer.

The Possible Good News

Perhaps parents will learn how to work well with their children and give up on tutors and all the extra afterschool events that may or may not be necessary. If a closer parent-child attachment grows out of this crisis then we will not have suffered without reward. Authentic parent-child relationships that are based on real-life problems are monumentally important to a child’s ability to thrive in this world. Parents in some ways have been given a second chance to help their children grow.

Perhaps students will become more self-directed and accountable because computer work is so black and white. Either it is done or not done. Computer homework cannot be lost on the way home or forgotten in the classroom.

An appreciation for teachers and classmates and the social situations that occur on the playground and classroom will certainly develop. When kids go back to school they may be better behaved and more able to focus and complete their schoolwork.

Overcoming the Side Effects 

The unfortunate side effect of all of the pressure to develop an immediate new educational style is children’s anger, disappointment, and, unfortunately, disrespect for others in charge of the development of online learning. While social situations are set up online they are not spontaneous. I understand almost everybody is facing new ways of doing their daily life which is so very, very hard to accomplish. Neediness or rebellion is inevitable in social interaction. Now kids are having problems with friends and parents. They are shut in the house and not able to play with friends or get the exercise they need to get rid of their pent-up energy. Children’s frustrations come out as anger at close others.

What can parents do to help encourage appropriate listening, social behavior, and accountability?

  1. First, parents need to accept that their child is having a hard time with this all-encompassing transition.
  2. As well, mom and dad should spend time figuring out what their child’s learning style is. Work with your son or daughter in a way that is natural for them. Do not impose your old fashioned ideas from your childhood.
  3. Work on a one-day-at-a-time strategy. If today went in the wrong direction, say to your child and yourself, “Tomorrow is a new day.”
  4. Be extremely encouraging.
  5. Ask for help from other parents who are in your situation.