Getting Kids to Listen

January 22, 2020
Getting Kids to Listen

A lot goes into helping your child become a good listener and following your requests.  Feeling “ignored” as parents and caregivers can be extremely frustrating, and it can be difficult to stay cool. Read below for some tips on how to get kids to listen:

1. Ask the “right” way.

  • Get down to eye level and get close. Children can’t follow instructions if they weren’t paying attention when you gave them.
  • Stay calm and avoid yelling. You’re teaching your child how to ask others and decreasing stress in the household.  Saying “please” is great to model and helps you avoid getting too heated.
  • Be specific and ask what you WANT children to do. If they don’t know what TO DO it can be confusing.

2. Give choices when you can.

  • Offering choices can make it more likely that a child will do a certain task. For example, saying, “Do you want the blue plate or the green plate?” is a great way to make sure that they will sit down for a meal.
  • Don’t give a choice when the task isn’t optional. Asking, “Can mommy change your diaper?” doesn’t make a lot of sense if the diaper is dirty and your child has no choice but to get changed.  Be clear and firm about what has to happen and don’t make it a debate.

3. Think about what you’re asking

  • Does your request make sense based on your child’s age and abilities? If the task is too complicated (“Clean up your room”), you may need to break it down.  If it isn’t clear (“Stop that”) you may need to be more specific.
  • Make sure your timing makes sense. Let children finish something they are doing whenever possible or give warnings about how much longer they have.  Surprise requests that are sudden and urgent don’t usually lead to success.

4. Be a good role model

  • Make sure you listen to your child and show them that their requests are also heard (you don’t have to do them, but you have to listen!)
  • Catch your child listening as much as possible and offer your praise. You are reinforcing how wonderful that behavior is and making it more likely that they will listen in the future.

For more information on encouraging listening and compliance, click here.


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