How to make kids listen is an annoying, stressful headache for virtually every parent.
Some children question everything with the typical “but why”?
Some children freak out when you ask them to be more flexible by throwing them out of their routine.
Other children constantly do the opposite of what you ask them.
Then you have some kids that will do whatever you ask of them but never do anything without accountability.
What if there was a way that, by knowing someone’s personality type, you could solve this?
There is, and let me share some fascinating learnings that can help any parent.
I just finished reading The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin.
The book goes over this exact issue of how to get people (including you, mom and dad) to do what you want.
So, by knowing their personality profile you’ll be able to communicate better, which means you’ll be more successful at getting your kids to listen without having to raise your voice.
First, let’s go over the four tendencies and then we’ll circle back on how to make kids listen using this framework.
The Four Tendencies Review
There are 4 different tendencies outlined in this book.
Think ORUQ (I’ll explain why this order in a moment):
O = Obliger
R = Rebel
U = Upholder
Q = Questioner
Let’s go through each of these in detail, but first, let’s go over what we’re answering with this.
We all face two types of expectations.
Outer expectations and inner expectations.
Outer expectations are how we meet deadlines or respond to requests. An example, “child” make your bed.
Inner expectations are how we keep promises to ourselves based on our own desires. For instance, if you want to read a book a month.
Here are the four tendencies and I’m sure you’ll know immediately which your child is.
An obliger can readily meet outer expectations but will struggle to meet inner expectations. They value commitments to others and succeed when given accountability and deadlines.
To meet inner expectations they’ll need external accountability. They’re easy to become exploited by people and can thus become resentful when taken advantage of.
- Good boss, responsive leader, and team player
- Has trouble saying no
- Exploitable and may become resentful
- Feels great when exceeding other’s expectations
- Willing to go the extra mile
- Responds to outer accountability
Rebels resist both outer and inner expectations. They put a high value on freedom, choice and identity. Being told what to do will cause resistance.
Rebels do tend to be good at delegating and can meet challenges easily in their own way.
Having a rebel child can be a challenge as they don’t like being told what to do. What works best is not nagging a rebel. Give them information, consequences if the desired action isn’t taken, and the choice to decide themselves.
- Able to quickly think outside the box
- Conventional wisdom doesn’t work
- Spontaneous and uncooperative
- Trouble doing tasks that have to be done consistently the same way
- Struggle with routines and planning
- Very in touch with their authentic desires
Upholders meet external and internal expectations with no problem. They’re self-directed and can easily meet deadlines. Supervision typically isn’t needed and they like routines.
Upholders, though, do not like sudden changes in routines and need to be reminded that others aren’t always like them. They can have problems delegating because they’ll feel others aren’t as efficient or dependable.
Upholders hate mistakes and put a high value on the follow-through.
- Sticks to a schedule
- Impatient reminding others or supervising
Questioners question all expectations and meet only those they justify internally. They value reason, research, and information.
They make decisions based on information and reason. Taking advice from authorities is only if they trust their expertise. They’ll persistently ask questions which can make others annoyed. Questioners hate arbitrary rules that make no sense.
- Doesn’t accept authority without justification
- Play’s Devil’s Advocate
- Suffers Analysis-paralysis
- Doesn’t like answering others questions
- Can’t not have closure if questions still unanswered
- Wants efficient systems that are effective
How to Make Kids Listen By Speaking Effectively
Remember, that what motivates you won’t necessarily motivate your child, and likewise if you have multiple children they’ll each be persuaded differently.
Obligers need accountability and value working with a team. So if your child is an obliger, they’ll do what is told of them. However, if you want them to meet their own inner expectations, you’ll want to assist them in finding a coach or accountability partner.
Rebels value freedom and self-identity and want the freedom to do something their own way.
As stated above, they’re the most difficult for a parent, so get creative. Coming right out and saying ‘do this because I said so,’ isn’t a long-term solution and the child most likely will transition into “No Brain.” Remember when we reviewed the book, The Yes Brain, we want children to be flexible, adaptive, coherent, energized and stable (FACES). Rebels work best knowing the information behind what you want done, understanding the consequences if they don’t do what you’d like and being able to then make a choice.
Now, upholders want to know what should be done and value self-command and performance. They’ll do what you want Mom and Dad with no fuss, but don’t put to much pressure on them and try to teach them to test the waters a bit by being spontaneous from time to time.
Finally, questioners value justification and purpose. Questioners will continue to ask questions until they feel they can make a good internal choice to do what you ask of them. While you may feel they have enough information, if they don’t feel they have enough to make the decision, they’ll continue to feel challenged. Have data to back up what you want done and solid reasoning behind your request. Questioners are good for us because they don’t let “BS” rules justify doing something.
When you’re unsure of a tendency when dealing with multiple children, one thing that works well for all tendencies is providing information, consequences and, finally, a choice.
This works well for both Obligers, Rebels, Upholders and Questioners.
Conclusion: The Four Tendencies Book Review for Parents
I’m sure by now you know immediately the tendency that your child/children are.
I still though encourage you, though, to take a moment and have them take the 8-Question Quiz (click-here).
As I shared in the video, I was on target knowing both what my wife and 2 daughters were, but was wrong on my son.
For younger children, you may need to spend some time explaining the questions so they can answer them, feeling certain and thus making the results more accurate. For my youngest, who is 12, I had to explain the intent of the questions, but she immediately was able to answer them after a quick explanation.
By understanding which tendency your child is you’ll be able to easily understand why they act the way they do.
You’ll also be better able to coach them when it comes to personal goals, school, sports and home life.
Finally, you’ll be much better equipped to get them to listen because now you’ll know the best way to frame your requests and you won’t have to go crazy as much (hopefully).
Heck, I’m sure now you’ll even be able to better communicate with your spouse once they take the quiz and hold yourself more accountable knowing what tendency you are.
Drop a comment below and let me know if you predicted your tendency and children’s correctly.
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