How to get your Kids to Listen to You

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Nobody is going to deny that parenting is difficult. But some days are just more difficult than others. So how do you get your kids to listen to you? Sometimes it seems impossible to get your child to listen to what you say. And nothing is more frustrating than being ignored when you make a request.

A girl in timeout or trouble

The key to getting your child to listen to you, however, is in understanding how your child functions and acting accordingly. Below are eight tips for you as you help your child listen to your directions. 

1. Evaluate your own behavior.

Take careful note of your tone of voice and attitude each time you give a direction to your child.  Children pick up on your mood far more quickly than you might realize. If you seem flustered, it will tend to make them unsettled as well.

Stop what you are doing at the moment so that you can give your child your full attention. Use a calm, cheerful reassuring voice. Also, get into the habit of using manners that you are teaching your child such as please and thank you. Your children will learn from your behavior, so make sure you are setting a good example!

2. Get your kids to Listen by Appealing to their Heart

This is the most important step in getting you child to listen to your instruction. You love them and have their back and it is your responsibility to teach them moral character in addition to respecting your authority.

You job as a parent is to train them to be obedient to their Heavenly Father, who is their ultimate authority. For example, it a child is caught lying to you, have them look for scriptures about lying and help them see the consequences of their actions. Share examples of how lying affects your relationship with others and how it breaks down trust in a friendship or another relationship.

Only God Himself fully appreciates the influence of a Christian mother in the molding of character in her children.” Billy Graham

3. Get your kids to Listen by Spending Time playing with them

There is a very strong bond established when a parent places an importance on playtime with their kids. The child loves the one-on-one time with the adult and ‘play’ is a child’s love language. Play is how the learn and build creativity when they are young.

Playfulness lightens the mood and puts fun into the task. Angry moms rarely get more than temporary obedience. So play video games with them or paint nails or do whatever it takes. to have fun and bond. Or, for an example, if you can find a pair of ‘fun cleaning shoes’ for them to wear while doing their chores, the mood will lighten and the task will likely get done with ease.

Parent and child on the beach

4. Eliminate noise

Make your instructions simple, using just a few, direct words. Kids have a difficult time processing what you want if it is surrounded by a lot of noise – extraneous words and explanations.

For example, if your child is throwing his food on the floor (happens all the time!), you might say, “Look what you’ve done. You made a huge mess on the floor I just cleaned! Don’t do that again.” This is an extremely noisy direction and will leave your child unsure as to what exactly not to do again.

To get your kids to listen, simplify your message and speak on the child’s level. A simple direction such as “Johnny, no throwing please” will be much more effective. Once the request is clear, there will be time for explanation later. 

5. Make Eye Contact and Give Hugs

This is a huge way to let your child know that you mean what you say. If your child has difficulty listening to your directions, ask them to look at you and wait to give your direction until their eyes meet yours. This will help them understand that they need to be focusing on you right now, not on a toy or TV show.

Gently taking your child’s hands or putting an arm around their shoulders is another great way to eliminate distraction and help them concentrate on what you are saying. However, make sure that you never grab your child roughly. Loving personal touch and eye contact are great tools to help your child listen to your directions. 

Parent and child high fiving using personal touch for encouragement

6. If Possible, Give a Heads Up

If your child is engrossed in a game, book, or TV show, they will find it difficult to give their attention to you,. This is completely understandable. Grownups find it difficult to disconnect from what they are doing on a moment’s notice as well. If possible, give a five or ten minute warning before asking your child to turn off the TV or put the toy away.

For example, you might say, “Johnny, dinner will be ready in ten minutes. I’m going to set the timer, so when you hear the timer go off, I’d like you to turn off the show and come to the table, please. Thank you!” Make sure your child hears, understands, and responds to your direction before setting the leaving the room.

7. Get your kids to Listen by Rewarding Good Behavior

Rewards can be a huge motivation for your child. Always, always, always make sure you give positive verbal feedback when your child listens well. A simple comment such as “Thank you for obeying. It makes me so happy when you do that!” is extremely powerful. Hugs and high fives also go a long way in helping to get your kids to listen and behave.

You may want to get a sticker chart for your child or help them work toward buying a prize (example: if they obey ten times, they can choose a new toy from the dollar store).

Cute kids being rewarded for good behavior

8. Give Discipline when needed

Rewards, however, must be balanced with discipline. If a child is misbehaving, make sure they know that it is not okay. Even a simple “You are not listening – that makes me feel sad” will help them understand that they need to change their behavior.

If a child constantly and willfully refuses to listen, you may have to deprive them of a toy or limit digital time for a while. This is crucial in helping children understand that wrong behavior entails consequences. Even if you must punish your child, however, make sure they know you love them. If they know they can trust you, they will respond well to both discipline and rewards.

Learning listening skills will be a process for both you and your child. These five tips may seem overwhelming, but don’t feel like you have to put them all into practice at once. Incorporate them slowly into your lifestyle and be patient as you wait for results.

It may take a while for your child to learn, but with a little consistency, they will start to develop good listening skills. Allow a little learning curve for both you and your child and embrace the process. It will be worth it in the end.