How To Get Your Child To Listen: 7 Tips For ParentsMar 27, 2023
As parents, we’ve all been there. It can be incredibly frustrating when your child doesn’t seem to listen no matter how hard you try. But don’t worry—you’re not alone! In this post, I’ve shared some tips and strategies that you can use to get your kids to listen to what you’re telling them.
Don’t give instructions until you’ve got your child’s attention
It may sound a little obvious but if you don’t have your child’s attention in the first place, you’re setting yourself up for a repetitive and frustrating interaction. You may need to try something to engage them and bring their focus to you—such as a gentle touch on the shoulder or asking “hey, can I tell you something?”
Get on their level
Getting down to your kid’s eye level and making eye contact is a good way to engage them. Making sure you have eye contact before giving them an instruction can help to get—and hold—their attention.
Use a calm tone of voice
It’s easier said than done when you’re at your wits’ end because you’ve repeated yourself multiple times and your kid still hasn’t listened. However, if you’re fed up and frustrated, your child is probably going to be too. Speaking to them in a calm and even tone can help to reduce stress and anxiety, making it easier for them to actually hear what you are saying.
It’s important to explain to your kids when something isn’t correct, that is part of the learning process. But if you’re focusing too much on what they got wrong—for example, “you’re being too loud, stop shouting”—your child may feel discouraged and disengaged.
Instead, try to use positive language to encourage them. You could say "let's use our indoor voices” as an alternative.
Be clear and specific
You’ve told them until you’re blue in the face that they need to tidy up the mess they’ve made, and they’re just not getting the message. When you’re giving instructions or making requests, be specific about what you want your kids to do. For example, instead of saying "you need to clean up your room," you could say "please put your toys in the toy box and your clothes in the hamper."
If you’ve told your child there are consequences for not listening or following instructions, make sure to follow through with them. This will help to reinforce the importance of listening and following directions.
Acknowledge good behavior
Positive reinforcement goes a long way in helping children learn appropriate behavior. Whenever your child follows instructions or exhibits the behavior you’re after, make sure they know that you noticed it!
A simple “thank you for listening” or “I really appreciate it when you do what I ask” can go a long way in helping kids understand the importance of behaving appropriately.
Reinforce that parent-child relationship
That loving bond between you and your child comes pretty naturally, but sometimes developing a healthy dialogue takes a little more work. It’s also a two-way street. Take some time to talk (and listen) to your child. Kids that feel listened to and respected are more likely to emulate those qualities when they’re being given instructions.
I’ve created a useful card deck of questions and conversation starters to help you connect with your child.
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