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Kids not listening?

Updated: Nov 6, 2018

10 simple tips to get your kids to listen

If you find yourself repeating things over and over to your kids, but you get no response until you get mad and have to raise your voice or give ultimatums, you are not alone! It feels like the 20 times you asked your kids to do something is not even registered until you lose your cool, or just decide to do it yourself. Sound familiar? The problem is that by repeating this pattern, kids are learning or being conditioned to not listen, until you are yelling, which gives them the signal to pay attention. If you are tired of this pattern, here are some tips to get your kids to listen better:

  1. Get on their levelkids are more likely to pay attention and listen if you sit down at their level, make eye contact, and talk to them. It might seem like a lot of work at first, but remember how much times you have spend shouting from the other room asking them to do something with no response.

  2. Give warnings, ahead of timeimagine if you are deep into an activity and someone comes along suddenly and tells you to stop right away because they need you to do something else. we all need time to transition from one activity to next. Instead give warnings ahead of time if you can. For example: “i see you are having so much fun with your toys, you can play for 10 more minutes, and then it is homework/dinner time.” some kids need 2 or 3 additional warnings to help them transition. Example “ 5 more minutes”, and then “one more minute”

  3. Tell don't askhow many times have you asked your kid questions like: “ can you start your homework?” only to hear “No” instead state what you need them to do, specially they really don't have a choice. “ I need you to start doing your homework.” It is a subtle change that can make a big difference.

  4. Give choicesthat are acceptable to you. Instead of :” you have to wear a jacket because its cold” try “would you like to wear your blue jack or purple one today?” this way you are “telling” them what to do, and at the same time giving them acceptable choices, which makes it less likely to get into a power struggle.

  5. More Do less Don'tKids are more likely to listen if you let them know what it is specifically you need them to do or how they can modify their behavior. Instead of “ stop hitting” try: “ keep your hands to yourself” the reason this approach might work better is that you are “telling” them what you need them to do specifically and are giving them acceptable alternatives. For example: instead of “no yelling inside”, try: “ if you want to be loud you need to do it outside.”

  6. Make it a game/challenge sometimes it helps to make things a bit more fun or a challenge they would enjoy. example:”let see if you can do this by the time i count to 20?, 25?” or “lets see if you can get dressed faster than me?” Kids love to win a game, be silly, and prove themself, and everything does not have to be serious all the time.

  7. Listen first Even if we cannot “give them what they want”, or agree with them, make sure to give your kids a chance to express themselves and feel heard first. Try something like: “ i hear how much you want, and i wish i could do that, but------” Many times children get frustrated because they feel unheard, and giving them a chance to express themselves can reduce this frustration.

  8. Spend focused time each day sometimes kids don't listen or “act out” because they have not had enough concentrated one on one time with you. Life is busy and there are a million things to do, but doing your best to spend at least 10 minutes of focused time with your kids, makes it more likely that they listen/cooperate with you.

  9. Are they hungry? Kids are not always paying attention to their body signals, if your kid is really struggling and seem irritable, ask them when was the last time they ate, and offer snack/food/drink. This might seem like an obvious point, but sometimes in the heat of the moment we might forget.

  10. Take a break Parenting is not always easy, sometimes we get overwhelmed and angry. Give yourself permission to take a break, get away from your child and calm yourself down before you lose your temper.

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