Every parent struggles with learning how to get kids to listen. It’s one of the reasons people joke about moms yelling all the time. We often get so frustrated trying to be heard, that we lose our temper and raise our voices.
Occasionally, the ranting routine works. We get the kids’ attention, they pull it together for a short while, and we’ve blown off all that steam that’s been building up.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a great long-term solution. Not only do we become riddled with guilt, our kids become desensitized to our tirades and tune us out even more.
That’s why it’s critical to figure out how to get your child to listen without yelling. You’ll have a happier family and a more peaceful home.
How to Get Kids to Listen
Getting kids to listen can be a battle, but it doesn’t have to mean war. If you are a parent who is tired of feeling like an iron-fisted general barking out commands that fall on deaf ears, this article may help you put an end to the hostilities.
Some of the maneuvers you’ll use might be covert, but in the end you will be able to effectively engage your child, get them to listen, and ultimately be the victor in a conflict that has gone on throughout the ages.
Reduce Your Rank
It might seem strange, but every general was once a recruit. When talking to your child, remember that you were once a kid.
Did you like it when your parents barked orders and demanded that you comply to every command? Not likely.
Instead of actually listening, you probably either coward in fear of punishment or boldly threw caution to the wind and flat out rebelled.
Your children aren’t much different than you were. They want a little respect, a lot of love, and a leader who isn’t going to demand things from them unfairly.
When you want your kids to listen, make sure that you aren’t towering above them, hands on hips and shouting orders. Instead, try getting down to their level and looking them in the eye. Using a calm voice, explain to them what you expect and why.
When you have finished explaining, ask them if they understand and if they think it’s an unfair expectation. Most often, a child will recognize that what you are asking or saying is being done out of love and that it isn’t unreasonable for them to do what you want.
Every war has many battles and not every battle will be won. There will be times that your child, for whatever reason, will not give you their full attention or heed your words. In these instances, you may need to develop a more strategic plan of action, but consistency will be your key to success.
If you have successfully completed step 1 above and your child fails to perform the required task or disregards something you have said, you will need to establish consequences for their lack of attention or obedience. This doesn’t mean throw them in the stockade, but it can mean no cell phone after 6 p.m. or lights out at an earlier bedtime.
Regardless of which consequence you choose, be sure to use step 1 when explaining the outcome of their poor choices and always follow through with what you decide. Children are notorious for pushing boundaries and will immediately recognize any weaknesses you may have in your strategy!
Make sure the action you take is one that you can carry out and never administer consequences out of anger or frustration. Also, be conscious about using positive reinforcement whenever your child meets and exceeds your expectations.
Be A Model Citizen
Being a “Do what I say and not what I do” kind of parent isn’t going to work if you really want your kids to listen. You have to set the example.
If your kids see that you aren’t listening when they talk, chances are they won’t listen to you either. Taking the time to hear what your child has to say and reflecting back to them what you have understood is a great way to let them know you care and that listening isn’t just a one-sided deal.
When you are actively engaged in conversation with your child, be sure to make eye contact when possible and repeat back to them what you have heard them say. This gives them an opportunity to clarify any misunderstandings and let’s them know that your full attention is on them.
Not only does this make for better communication overall, it encourages good listening skills in your child.
When All Else Fails
Parenting is never easy and every child is different. While most children will respond to the steps above in a positive manner, some children may seem to never listen.
Whether it is due to an extremely strong will in the child or from some sort of psychological disorder, parents who face this type of situation can become frustrated, enraged, or worse off, abusive in their attempts to bring the child into submission.
In such cases where a child simply refuses or cannot listen and obey, parents may need to seek out professional help. There are a variety of resources available to caregivers who struggle with children who seem out of control or who may have developmental disabilities.
A great place to start asking for help would be your child’s counselor at school. They can address your concerns, give you a better idea of how your child behaves outside of the home, and they can point you in the right direction if further help is needed.
Once you know how to get kids to listen, the easy part is over. The strategies above take patience, practice, and forgiveness. You won’t always be able to keep a cool head, but don’t beat yourself up if you falter.
Just like our kids, who need plenty of reminders and still make occasional mistakes, we aren’t aiming to be perfect all of the time, just a better person (and parent) each day.
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