As parents, we all know what it’s like to tell your child to do something and having to repeat it like a thousand times, only for them to still not listen. Here’s a shocking revelation – it’s our fault that our children don’t listen to us. Before you close this tab because you think I’m crazy, you may want to keep reading because I’m going to give you some expert tips on how to make your children listen and how to improve communication between you and them.
When parents say they want their children to listen to them, they mean that they want their children to do something or act or stop acting a certain way. In trying to achieve this, many parents tend to resort to repeating themselves, nagging their children or getting frustrated with themselves and their children.
Getting your children to listen to you can be difficult. This is harder if there’s no real daily routine for their activities or no real opportunities for the family to spend time together. It takes a lot of practice, routine, and these tips on how to get your children to listen to you to spark a change:
- Demonstrate how to listen to your child by listening to them when they speak. Make an effort to express that you’re listening to them and explicitly ask them to listen to you when you speak. Try not to respond to your children when they yell to get your attention so as not to let them think that listening required shouting.
- Create a routine and get your kids to stick to it. If your children learn and adhere to morning or evening routines, you will ultimately spend less time giving instructions and repeating yourself. Be sure to keenly stick to the routines you create or all your work will become futile and you’re back to square one.
- Offer your children positive reinforcement for completing tasks you ask of them. Express gratitude or praise to your children when they complete something you asked and did it well. Positive reinforcement encourages your children to listen to you more because it associates listening with your approval.
- Use fewer words in your instructions to your child. Instead of repeating an entire sentence until your mouth gets tired and you get weary, minimize your instructions to direct, one-word commands like, ‘eat now’, ‘sit here’, or ‘stop’. Break the habit of repeating yourself to get your child to listen to you.
In an article from Psychology Today, therapist Dr. Erica Reischer Ph.D. explains that parents must help their children to cultivate the habit of paying attention to what they say; and part of creating this habit is paying attention to how they talk to their kids.
“Yelling does get kids’ attention, but it’s problematic because it contributes to a dysfunctional pattern of communication. Research has also shown that yelling may have harmful effects on children comparable to physical punishment, such as hitting. Children whose parents are verbally aggressive also exhibit lower self-esteem, higher aggressiveness, and increased rates of depression”, Dr. Reischer says.
Podcast Ep. 168 How to Get Your Child To Listen
With that said, consider these four tips to practice giving your children clearer and firmer instructions to get them to listen to you:
- Be direct in communicating with your children. Give them clear instructions instead of making suggestions. This reinforces respect, opens communication and develops discipline. It’s better to say, “Please take out the trash after dinner” rather than, “I think you should take out the trash, maybe after dinner.”
- Command your child’s attention before giving instructions. Barking and shouting instructions from across the house will not guarantee that your child will listen to you. It’s best if you first get their attention or make eye contact, and then express what you’d like them to do. This ensures more effective listening.
- Replace your instructions to your children with questions. Instead of always explicitly giving instructions, start asking your children to tell you and then execute what they know comes next. For example, after using the toilet, ask your child what action comes next instead of outrightly instructing them to flush the toilet and wash their hands.
- Inform and explain the consequences of not listening to you to your children. Explain the natural consequences of not listening to you before, during, and after the deadline by which you expect what you’ve asked to be done is completed. If they don’t listen, they have to face the consequences. An example of this is instructing your children to go to bed at 7:00 p.m and then explaining to them that if they’re not in bed by 7:00 p.m., you will not read them a bedtime story.
Getting your child to listen to you may often seem like a monumental task. If you’re doing the same things repeatedly and expecting it to work, it’s safe to say you’re a little bit crazy. You have to change your strategy to command and keep your child’s attention. The key to getting your child to listen is to teach them how to listen, structure their routines, be direct and command respect, set consequences, and thank them for listening. For your sake and your children’s, I hope these tips help to make your children listen to you more.