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Parenting Positively: How to Get Your Children to Listen

by Heba Mahdy

If your child does not respond to you or cannot accept your point of view; then the problem is in the connection. Parenting is all about the connection between you and your child.

According to Alfred Adler, a psychologist whose concepts are the basis of positive parenting, humans seek significance and belonging. We need to feel important and appreciated for what we are doing. We need to belong to a tribe, family, country, religion, etc. Sometimes we can only find belonging and significance through acting out. The same concept applies to children; if a child does not feel significant or like they belong, he or she may misbehave or oppose their parents just for attention.

What is "special time" and how is it effective?

During one of my parenting workshops, a mother of four (let’s call her Juliet) had a problem with her five-year-old daughter. Her daughter was constantly trying to get Juliet’s attention by misbehaving—calling for her, asking questions over and over, or doing something risky like jumping over a table—whenever Juliet was busy with her other children, chores or other obligations.

In the positive parenting discipline, this type of misbehaviour is called “undue attention” and it can be addressed through “special time”. Special time is not just about spending time with your child or being around them. It is about giving your child your undivided attention, which will make them feel special and important.

But what if I don't have time to spare?

Spending as little as ten minutes at a time will teach your kids a valuable life skill by demonstrating that family comes first and that spending quality time with them is a priority.  The Positive Parenting Field recommends ten minutes of special time per day for children two to six years old, 30 minutes of special time per week for children seven to ten, and only one activity per month (of their choosing) for teens.

In those brief moments with your child, it is important to be a friend who wants to have fun. Those minutes are for your child to feel special—to be king or queen. You just play to build bridges of love and secure emotional connections.

Before starting “special time”, explain to them how much time the two of you will have and that it is meant to be only for you two.  When the time comes to an end, (using a timer with small children can be helpful) give him or her a big hug, help them tidy up toys if need be, and tell them that you look forward to your time with them next time.

Special time is an effective tool in restoring the relationship between a child and parent. When you feel authentically connected to someone, you become more tolerant of their differences, and this encourages you to maintain a healthy relationship.

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