Skip Nav
Halloween
This Little Boy Dressed Up in Homemade Halloween Costumes Will Be Your New Obsession
Can I Use CBD Oil While Breastfeeding?
Health and Wellness
CBD Oil Is Amazing For So Many Things, but Breastfeeding Isn't One of Them (Yet)
Wine
This New Cold Brew Spiked With Wine Has Over 12% ABV — Bye, Regular Coffee
Gifts For Women
43 Thoughtful Mini Gifts — Because Stocking Stuffers Are the Most Fun
Ellen DeGeneres
Move Over, Oprah! Ellen DeGeneres Has Her Own List of 15 Favorite Things For Fall

How to Get Your Child to Listen

4 Ways to Get Your Child to Listen to You

Recently I asked a group of moms, "How do you get your child to listen to you?"

Some replied, "Give consequences till he listens," and others, "Be willing to leave if she doesn't listen." Those things do work, but most of the time a parent has to add a reaction to the request in order for it to work.

Hanan Y. wants to know, "Seriously, how many times do you have to say, 'Please stop,' before you are pushed to the point of screaming at them?"

There are many ways to help parents increase listening. However, unless a parent is clear about the intent behind her wish to be heard, no tip will work for very long.

ADVERTISEMENT

Knowing What Your Goal Is

In order to be effective when you ask your child to listen to you, ask yourself what your goal is. Is your goal to be heard, or is it to be listened to? There is a difference.

When you want to be "heard," your main focus is on producing words to express your feelings so "you feel heard."

When you want to be heard, you're not really aware, and sometimes don't care, how the other person is impacted by what you're saying. In other words, when you want to be "heard," you are focused on you.

When your goal is to get someone to do as you ask, or to "listen" to you, you unconsciously look for clues to tell you if your message is getting through. In other words, your focus is on the other person.

Here are four tips to increase listening. (This works well when used with adults, too.)

1. Give Your Child Time to Switch Focus

When a person is deeply focused and concentrating on what they're doing, whether it's playing, crying, whining, fixing the car, reading, or making dinner, they aren't able to immediately listen to you.

DO observe what the other person is doing before speaking. Adults and children need a moment or two to switch from one side of the brain to the other so they can give you their undivided attention. Waiting a moment before speaking also teaches your child how you'd like them to interrupt you, too.

What if it's an emergency? When your habit is to wait before speaking or respectfully ask, "Is now a good time?" then if you ever really need their full attention during an emergency, the alarming and jarring sound of your voice causes them to listen immediately since it's so different than the norm.

2. Don't Talk Over a Crying Child

Talking over a crying child to insist that they stop crying is not only fruitless, it also sends the silent message, "What I'm saying is more important than your feelings."

DO try waiting silently until the crying slows just a bit before you speak.

3. Talk Slowly, With Pauses

When a parent's words/requests are delivered with rapid intensity most children will unconsciously retreat behind the "I'm not listening barrier" to protect themselves from the onslaught.

DO try to be mindful not to emotionally overload the other person/child. Make sure you give them a moment or two to digest what you've just said before you move on to the next point.

4. Watch and Adjust Body Language

Paying attention to your child's body language is a good way to see if what you're saying is getting through to them. If you're not getting through, don't blame them or make them self-conscious by calling their attention to what their body is doing. Instead, adjust what you are doing.

DO make eye contact, do reach out and touch them lightly on the shoulder to create a connection, do get down to their eye level, not in their face, and do modulate your voice so your words are warm and accepting vs. cold and accusing.

Being mindful of how your words impact someone places you in partnership with them and increases the possibility of listening, whether you're speaking to an adult or a child.

Image Source: Shutterstock
From Our Partners
Lilo & Stitch Elf on the Shelf
How to Sterilize Bottles in The Instant Pot
Interview With Shonda Rhimes About Parenting
How to Talk to Kids About Sex in a Positive Way
Reasons Being a Parent During the Holidays Is the Best
Mom's Reaction to Toddler's Meltdown Over a Popsicle
LeBron James Singing Frozen With His Daughter
My Son With Cerebral Palsy Is Learning to Speak on a Device
I'm Never Going to Tell My Kids That Santa Isn't Real
Funny Halloween Prank to Play on Kids
Essay About Not Enjoying Your Kids' First Milestones
How to Say Goodnight to Kids
From Our Partners
Latest Family
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds