Some parents say that their children zone out while watching television and do not even notice they are being spoken to. Well, our oldest son, who just turned 9, is that way while the TV is on, while he is reading, while he is playing computer or video games, and while he is talking or playing with his siblings. All those things, take up quite a large percentage of his waking hours. My husband and I were just getting fed up with his not acknowledging us when we spoke to him. Once in awhile, we would get a half-hearted "What?", but those were just weak attempts to appease us. It was quite apparent that our son had convinced himself that listening to us was optional.
After confirming that our son did not have an actual physical hearing problem, my husband and I tried all different punishments, including taking away whatever it was that our son was doing that was more important than listening to his parents. We were really at a loss. Then it occurred to me that I needed to show our son how big of a problem this has become. Perhaps he was not totally aware of what he was doing? So I made a simple listening chart. Here's how it works . . .
- You and your child agree on a really cool reward that he or she would work hard for. Then write down what it is in the bubble on the left.
- You and your child agree on a serious punishment that he or she would work extremely hard to avoid. Then write down what it is in the bubble on the right.
- Your child will earn an "X" if you have to tell him or her to do something more than 3 times.
- Your child will earn an "X" if he or she outright disobeys you. (For example, you tell your child to stop poking his little brother, but he does it again.)
- If your child earns zero or one "X" over a period of 7 days, then they get the prize in the bubble on the left.
- If your child fills the chart by earning 10 X's over the coarse of the 7 days, then they get the punishment in the bubble on the right.
TO PRINT: Be sure your computer's printer is turned on and ready to print. Click on the image below to enlarge. Then right-click on the image and select print. Use your browser's back button to return to this page.
How has this listening chart worked out for us?
We are on the 4th week of using this chart and our son has come a long way. During the 1st week, he earned 7 X's. On the 2nd week, he earned less. On the 3rd week, he only earned one, so he actually got the prize. We are currently 2/3 of the way through the 4th week and he has earned one X so far.
What this chart has done is made our son aware of how many times he fails to listen. If he fills the whole chart, that means he didn't listen to us at least 30 times! The first week, he realized that he did not listen at least 21 times. Using this chart has trained him to pay more attention to listening. Listening to his parents has moved way up on his list of important things to do. We do not need him to be perfect because he is still a child, but we are happy to see how much effort he puts into improving what used to be one of his biggest shortcomings.
If you try using this chart, I would love to hear if it helped your situation! You could probably use this chart to train your child to do (or not do) other things too.