How Can I Get My Children to Listen

Mar 04, 2021
Do you ever feel like a broken record when speaking to your children? Are you finding you ask them 10 times and they are still protesting or worse "ignoring you"?
You are not alone!
Getting children to listen is one of the most common parenting concerns!
While we may be extremely frustrated with our children's lack of attentiveness or feel as though they are "disrespecting us" we need to look at three things that may actually be going on . 
1. Is there a disconnect between the expectation and the child's developmental ability?
Perhaps we are asking our children to do something that they simply cannot do, or maybe something they feel that they cannot do? Imagine your boss asks you to complete a task that she knows you are capable of but you feel unsure about. Are you likely to jump right in and start trying or have reservations and sit on it for a while? Sometimes these feelings are the same for children. They can feel overwhelmed about how "easy" everything comes to adults like putting on shoes, getting dressed, or cleaning up a HUGE mess and it paralyzes them into what we see as doing nothing or ignoring!   
2. Have we connected with our children in their space before setting the expectation?
As parents it is easy to see the needs of the household (dinner time, bath time, clean up, etc.) before the needs of each individual member. When we jump in and start asking our children to complete a task without considering their needs it can often be met with resistance. Imagine you are sitting on the couch watching your favourite show and your partner says "Okay TV off, time to go to bed". Are you likely to just jump and comply, ask to finish your show, or ignore them all together? 
3. Is your child protesting the task because it is something they genuinely do not want to do?
Sometimes we see children's protest or negotiating as disrespectful and defiant, when really it is simply about our children finding their own voice to stand up when they don not want to do what is being asked of them. If you think about it in the sense of peer pressure and questioning authority, will we still view it as a negative trait that our children are able to stand strong and voice their opinion even when they risk frustrating authority? Yes there are times children must follow the expectations for safety, boundaries of others, and simply the functionality of your home, but when we respect our children as a member of the family we create a space that encourages opinions and open conversation and a space we will want as our children age through the years!

So what CAN we do in those frustrating repetitive moments? 

1. Consider that the task we are asking may feel overwhelming to our children. 
"Putting on your shoes feels really hard right now. Is there a part of putting your shoe on I can help you with?" 
Yes, we know they can do it themselves but let's face it, will helping them now mean they will never do it themselves? Likely not. In the tough times when our children are struggling, modelling empathy and compassion is a great opportunity for a teaching moment. 
2. Connecting with our children in their moment. 
"I can see you are working really hard on building Lego, it's time for you to have a bath. I wonder if you are going to choose a short bath so you can come right back to Lego or finish playing tomorrow." 
Acknowledging what is important to them at the moment, setting the expectation and giving them the power to choose what comes after the expectation. 
3. Validating our children's feelings and opinion around a task. 
"Wow, you really don't want to go to bed! You feel like you are old enough to stay up a bit longer. Let's talk about what might happen if you stay up too late."
Respecting their opinion as a member of the family, validating their feelings and allowing them in on the conversation instead of dictating all their life's choices can help them feel in charge of the big decisions.
Give these a shot in your home!
I help committed parents of children age 1 to 10 move from questioning their parenting to being the confident parent they are meant to be. I do this through 1:1 coaching sessions and a G.R.E.A.T. Parenting Membership.
You got this!