Of the many concerning issues relating to children in the 21st century, high on the list is the number of children who are unabashedly poor listeners. It is not hard to find parents and teachers who feel that poor listening in children has reached epidemic proportions. During my years as a public school educator, I regularly heard parents express frustration at having to repeat themselves multiple times a day when speaking to their children; frustration that would fluctuate between moderate annoyance (on a good day) to entertaining plans to take a long walk off of a short pier on a not so good day! Little did they know, they already held membership in the “Broken Record” Society (unofficial and unrecognized). The good news: Membership does not have to be inevitable - or lifelong. Membership in the “Broken Record” Society can become a thing of the past, once and for all.
Unless diagnosed with a hearing loss or hearing impairment, children can hear. They hear birds sing, horns honk, doorbells ring....AND voices. The problem lies not in hearing, but in listening. Whereas hearing is the ability to perceive a sound, listening involves “giving (thoughtful) attention to a sound” (Oxford Dictionary).
When addressing their unresponsive child(ren), 'broken record' parents tend to:
Repeat themselves multiple times over
Escalate in volume – often to the point of yelling
Make the following comments (or similar ones) on a regular basis: How many times do I have to say it?, Do you HEAR me?, I SAID……., That’s it; I’ve had it!
If the above sounds familiar, you have officially become a broken record. Time to change course!
When firmly established and consistently implemented, The 12-Step Process outlined below has been proven to be highly effective. Though implementation can begin at any time, it is best to start the process when children are young (by 3 years of age).
12-Step Process to Breaking the ‘Broken Record’ Cycle:
Before speaking, make (and maintain) direct eye contact.
Resolve to give the directive(s) one time; exceptions may arise, but such should not be the norm.
Speak in a confident, assured tone; say what you mean and mean what you say.
Avoid shouting. It serves no purpose since hearing is not the problem.
In terms of words, less is best. Excessive verbiage can dilute the message.
Have the child repeat what he/she heard you say.
If directing a child to do a task that he/she may not know how to do, or how to do properly, demonstrate first and then allow practice time.
Follow with “Do you understand?” and “Do you have any questions?”
Once the child understands the directive and any questions have been answered, say something affirming before he/she begins (ex: Very good, I’m counting on you, I know you can do it).
Upon completion of a directive, recognize the child’s success outwardly (handshake, pat on the back, verbal praise…).
If the child does not complete a directive, avoid any discussion as to why (the list of excuses can go on forever).
When time for the child’s next anticipated event (snack, playtime, special TV show, visit with a friend, sleepover, movie…), inform the child that he/she will not be participating due to failure to __________. Again, do not engage in additional discussion. Any attempt on the part of the child to beg, apologize, reason, or make promises should be ignored.
"Who wants to listen to a broken record? Who wants to listen to a broken record? How many times do I have to say it? Do you HEAR me? I SAID, "Who wants to listen to a broken record? That's it. I've had it!"
©Sharon Knapp Lamberth, May 2022