Five Tips to Getting Your Child to Listen

Susan Heid of The Confident Mom

This topic gets a lot of attention! I often speak at MOPS groups and when I open up time for Q & A this topic comes up in one form or another. It is frustrating – no one likes to be talking and feel like no one is listening, especially moms who are trying to get everyone to do their part. This is a hot button for me, when I feel like my kids are not listening, just blowing me off or missing important instruction because they seemingly just don’t care, I often evaluate what part I am playing. Often times, we both are contributing to the frustration.

I have a few points to keep in mind when you get frustrated with your child not listening, or just to keep in practice so you don’t get to that frustrated point.

1. Short and sweet does the trick

“When you wish to instruct, be brief; then men’s minds take in quickly what you say, learn its lesson, and retain it faithfully. Every word that is unnecessary only pours over the side of a brimming mind.” - Cicero, Roman orator, statesman

I love this quote and the relevance it has, especially with regard to parenting. I think we as parents get into a bad habit of trying to explain too much to our kids – at the wrong time! There is a time and place for long conversations, explaining reasons and rules – but choosing those times carefully will prevent a lot of confusion. In my ScreamFree Parenting we touch on this topic and how to not get caught up in power struggles or long drawn out explanations that usually end up getting no where. Being short and sweet, to the point will get you and your child much farther than long drawn out instruction or reasoning.

2. Make eye contact

Have you tried this before? I know this technique works very well, but I often get in too much of a hurry and forget to get my child to stop and look at me when I am giving instruction. I recently had a conversation with one of my children about how frustrated I was with him not listening. I told him what I needed from him and then asked him what he needed from me. He paused for a few moments and then told me he needed me to look him in the eye when I was talking to him. No shocker here, but how often I forget the basic steps! I told him I could certainly try to make that happen more and we were both happy with the outcome.

3. Have your child repeat instructions back to you

Do you have your child repeat instructions back to you? If you do, how does this work. I have found when I stop and take the time to have my children repeat instructions or requests back we are both fully aware of what the expectation is. There is no room for miscommunication, no “that’s not what you said”, or even the common “I never heard you.” Try to incorporate this more into your daily routine and it will start to come to you more naturally and you won’t even realize you are doing it!

4. Give choices

You may wonder – how does this have anything to do with getting my child to listen? Well, if you are engaging your child in a decision making process they are much more apt to listen closely. Giving instruction in a way that you empower your child to make a choice will keep his attention, especially when you are making eye contact as you have this conversation.

5. Are you listening to them?

Do you multi-task when your child is trying to tell you about their day? Are you busy working at the computer when your child is asking you a question? I am a big believer that children learn by example, so what are you truly teaching your children when you respond in this manner? I wonder how much influence it may have on my children when I am trying to do so many other things all while listening to them, and how they might get the idea they don’t have to give me their undivided attention when I am talking to them. Kind of a double standard, don’t you think? So, take the pause you may need in order to really listen to your child, if you need to ask them to wait a minute for you to finish, then do so. I am sure they would much prefer a mom who is giving 100% of her time to them rather than half-way listening.

You are a busy mom, lots of things to juggle and the last thing you need is to have to repeat yourself over and over. Hopefully you can try one of these new approaches to help move the little people along in your life without all the frustration!

Susan Heid helps moms get the BIG picture on how their home is functioning and then helps them gain relief with a personalized plan of action to give life changing results.  Susan’s training as a PCI Certified Parent Coach. a Certified Family Manager Coach and a ScreamFree Certified Leader gives her a unique combination to encourage and support busy moms in the art of Home and Family Management.  Empowering Moms and Strengthening Families is her passion.  Are you ready to make positive changes that will impact your family for generations?  You can start by visiting The Confident Mom and requesting her FREE ebook, “Getting Kids to Cooperate and Become Team Players – 10 Essential Strategies and Solutions”.

  • Christine

    I agree and think that this is really important. I strongly believe that it is our responsibility as parents to teach our children the fundamental things in life. A lot of people struggle with teaching their children anything, because it usually ends in pain and frustration. This is why I have written about this subject at Family Haven

  • Bonni

    I agree with all of these posts. I think that we, as moms, often REALLY BELIEVE that we ARE doing all 5 suggestions, without realizing that in our busy-ness, we frequently ‘violate’ number 5!

  • Janna @ The Adventure of Motherhood

    Respectful communication- Amen! It’s so foolish for us as parents to think that the rules of right communication are any different when your companion is a child.

    We should be even more diligent to err on the side of respect b/c what we do in moderation they will do in excess.

    Tell it like it is Susan!