Do you sometimes have trouble getting your child to listen when you ask them to do something?
Most of us do. Little people can be super stubborn and it’s not because they don’t want to listen, they just don’t understand why they have to. They also want to do their own thing and make their own decisions.
Being “commanded” to do tasks all day long is not fun for anyone, let alone a child or teenager.
So if getting your child to listen seems like an uphill battle for you, then you should keep reading because I’ve got great tips to share with you.
Related Parenting Resources:
- Words To Say Instead Of “NO”
- The Power Of A Hug During Difficult Parenting Moments
- Improve Behaviour In Kids With an Afterschool Routine
*This post may contain affiliate links. Full disclosure here.
Tips For Getting Kids To Listen
Today’s world has so many distractions, we have cell phones, televisions, video games and so many other digital objects. Pair these distractions with children’s selective hearing and you’ve got a “child who doesn’t listen”.
I hate the phrase ” child who doesn’t listen” because most children would listen if they were approached the correct way. That phrase is very negative and does make me cringe because it implies that the child is “bad”.
I tent to believe that no child is “bad” but simply misguided and needs a new direction in life.
The good news is, there are a few simple ways you can help your child listen to you when you speak so you don’t get into a mad screaming phase after asking 6 000 times to do something.
Get Within Close Range
This tip may or may not be a given. I mean shouting “Dinner is ready!” from the kitchen when your kids are across the house, is not an effective way to get kids to come to join you at the dinner table.
If you are asking your child to do something, be in the same room as them.
If your children are younger, you can kneel down to their level and make eye contact while asking them to join you at the dinner table or clean up their toys. If you can’t kneel down, a touch on the arm or some other loving gesture goes a long way.
If your children are older, then ensure that eye contact is made so that you know they are paying attention to your words.
Sometimes your kids may “test” you and ignore you on purpose. Realize that this is just their way of seeing what will happen if they continue to ignore you. It is a very normal part of development. The way to combat this behaviour is to simply ensure that eye contact is made and your message is loud and clear.
Tell, Don’t Ask (But In A Positive Way)
The second tip I have for you is to ensure you are telling your child what you would like them to do and not asking them. When you phrase it as a question, you are giving them an opportunity to say no.
The balance in this tip is to ensure you are not commanding your kids around, but are nicely talking to your child and directing them into the desired action.
For example, you would like your child to clean their room. If you say this: “Go clean your room” in a commanding/assertive voice, your child will likely not comply and just ignore you altogether.
If you say ” Can you please go clean your room?” Your child can respond with a “no thank you!” and move along.
In both situations, you lose. So how would you tell your child to clean their room without losing the battle?
“Son, the house is all clean except for your room. I need you to go clean it up now. You can get back to your video games after it is all clean.”
If they continue to protest, you can go ahead and give the warning to turn off their activity, and follow through if need be. This doesn’t need to be a negative experience, it can all be done in a positive way.
Your attitude matters a lot in how your kids respond to you.
Limit The Number Of Instructions They Have To Follow
If you really want your child to respond to your instructions, make it super easy for them to follow your direction. If you provide too many things to complete, your child could get overwhelmed and in turn, just tune you out altogether.
Take the instructions one step at a time for your younger children. For older children, you can provide a few more steps, but not too many.
for example for a 4-year-old, you can direct your child to pick up garbage around the house and put it in the bin. This is enough activity for him to start with and any more instruction could send him over the edge into overwhelm.
If you have a 14-year-old daughter, you may ask her to pick up all the dishes around the house and put them into the dishwasher. Be sure to wipe down the countertops!
This is enough instruction for a teenage girl. If you ask her to also sweep and wash the kitchen floor and then take out the garbage too, she will likely give you the eye roll and the attitude.
It’s not too much to ask, considering us parents do so much all day long for our children and the house, but it is too much to ask all at once for a teenage girl. You’re going to end up with no clean dishes, and a teen who is sitting on the couch glued to her phone completely ignoring you.
See If your Child Can Repeat Your Instructions
If your children are younger, it’s a good idea to ask them to repeat to you what you have just asked. This ensures that the child did in fact hear what you had to say.
This simple act can take the conversation from ” Hey, did you hear me? Hello!!! I asked you to clean up the living room!!” to “Thank you so much for helping out around the house! I really appreciate it.”
If you ever feel like all you do is yell at your children, then you should probably read the book “Growing Up Children: How to get 5-12 year olds to behave and do as they’re told” by Dr Darryl Cross on audio or hardcover. It is LIFECHANGING.
Reward Positive Behaviour
If your children do ask you instructed, it is always a good idea to give some praise for the act.
Whether it is an extra book at bedtime or an after-dinner treat/activity, no good deed should go unnoticed.
Children feel good when they get a reward. When they feel good, they want to recreate this feeling. They can also sense that you are happy with them and they will want to recreate this happiness.
The more positive reinforcement you provide for good deeds, the more good deeds they will want to do. and before you know it, good deeds will be done without your asking.
What a wonderful situation!
Your kids will listen much better next time they are instructed to do something.
Avoid Providing A Negative Consequence, Let Natural Consequences Take Place
If your children are still not listening to you, then you’ll want to advise them that there are consequences for this kind of behaviour.
Avoid providing a negative consequence such as taking away the after-dinner treat or no more video games for the next week, but rather discuss what could happen if the instructions are not being completed.
For example, if you asked your child to clean up after dinner and they refuse to do so, advise them that if the dishes do not get completed on this night, they will pile up twice as much for the next morning, afternoon and evening.
Remind them that you will ask them to complete the dishes tomorrow evening also and if they do not want to wash stuck on food off of dishes the following day, it’s a good idea to get them done today.
These are natural consequences because you are teaching them that if they are in their own home and they do not finish the dishes, the house will start to smell and their workload will double every time they ignore the kitchen.
These are life skills that need to be taught…I believe they call it ” Adulting”.