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How to talk so kids will listen? | Positive Parenting | Positive Discipline | Parenting Styles

  • 3m guru
  • Feb 1, 2022
  • 0 comment(s)

Do you have to keep repeating things over and over again and still your child doesn't listen?

“Don’t throw things around, Don’t waste your food, Don’t spend too much time on mobile devices, how many times should I tell you, you never listen” and nothing you instruct seem to work?

Let me tell you a story. A story that will create a paradigm shift in the way we deal with kids and help us with a simple, positive hack that could make children wanting to do more and more of what we expect from them.

There was this research done a few years back. A mouse was to make its way inside a maze and discover a mount of cheese that was placed in it.

The researchers came up with a plan, in order to motivate the mouse to navigate the maze correctly. At every possible wrong turn the mouse could take, they placed a small filament carrying an electric charge. They thought that, these small electric shocks would deter the mouse from taking the wrong paths and ultimately help it reach its goal.

Then the experiment began,

The mouse tempted by the smell of cheese began to run around the maze desperately trying to find it. And then things started to happen. The electric shock. The mouse got stunned by the first shock. It tried to recover and started moving again in the right direction. But a bit cautious this time. Then it struck again. This time the mouse slowed down considerably. After a long pause, it started to explore again. And after a couple of turns, came its third wrong step. This time, after the shock, the mouse just refused to move. It found that the maze was a dangerous place, an environment not conducive to learn and explore.

The researchers were left contemplating on what went wrong. One of the bright minds in the group came up with an alternative. He removed all the filaments from the wrong turns; instead he placed small bits of the cheese at every right turn.


This time, the mouse maneuvered tactfully through the maze gulping the tiny pieces of cheese, one after the other, at every correct turn. It naturally avoided the wrong turns, made all the right moves, and ultimately reached its goal, with ease. No electric shocks, just small bits of cheese!


Parents are an anxious lot. We don’t want our children to do the wrong things. When they cross the lines, we never miss to pin-point wrong behaviour.We never fail to give them the electric shocks- threats, reprimands and punishments.

Children quickly learn that those mistakes are not to be repeated. But they learn so grudgingly or out of fear. We can never be sure if they won’t repeat the same mistake when they are out of our sight.

But, there will surely be few days, when our kids fall in line and do the right things. Most of us fail to recognize these small actions. We think, they did what they had to do, and what’s there to appreciate in that. We fail to give them those cheese bits- recognition, appreciation, a pat on the back.

Imagine you as a child doing things that your mother liked, trying to impress her, but she turned a blind eye. Will you be motivated to do that again?

On the contrary if your mom calls up her friend and raves about you that you are the best at keeping your room tidy, wouldn't you have tried to live up to that hype?

This is the positive pressure, that motivates a child to change, and do those acts again and again, making it a part of their self image. That is real lasting change. This is called positive discipline. When we don’t do that, we have lost an opportunity to make a change. A rightly timed word of encouragement becomes an “expectation” that they will try to live up to.

We have to realign our parenting radars to look for the good deeds they do and take those opportunities to them with cheese bits, rather than looking for missteps to correct them. Keep your eyes and ears sharp to spot the little good deeds and give them the pat on the back they deserve.

Like they say, change always starts from you. It’s difficult, but not impossible, and its worth trying.

Summary of the parenting hack to good behaviour:

  • Spot good deeds and encourage them instantly, even reward if appropriate. Appreciation is one of the most powerful motivators
  • Tiny rewards, praises and encouragement adds positive pressure on the child’s psyche to repeat them.
  • Once their right actions are being appreciated, they automatically start avoiding the wrong ones.

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