How To Get Kids To Listen

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How To Get Your Children To Listen To You
Without becoming mean and combative!

Depending on your perspective, this article may come across as either very hopeful, or very challenging.

I’m going to offer 4 things that I believe must be done in order to get children to not only listen to their parents, but to respect and appreciate their parents too.

None of this involves punishment, spanking, shaming, or anything authoritarian.

If you are familiar with me at all, you know I always recommend avoiding anything fear-based or punitive. That means, no time-outs, no shaming, no “tough-love”. And of course, any and all forms of violence – physical and emotional – are to be removed from the way we treat our children.

The approaches I do recommend are all conscious, positive and gentle.

It might not be so easy taking a more peaceful, respectful approach.  Instead, it may actually be the most challenging thing you have ever faced, depending on your current state of emotional health and well-being.

But I am telling you one thing.  This does work, and it is possible for any parent, to get their children to listen to them, in positive, loving ways, instead of threatening with violence and other manipulative tactics.

If you’re new to this style of parenting, you might like my article, 10 Things Every Beginner to Peaceful Parenting Should Know

What Doesn’t Work

First let’s over over what doesn’t work.

Sometimes it may seem like you’ve tried everything, yet nothing really seems to work. Instead of listening, your kids run away from you, they do something else, they turn away, and they do just about everything but the one thing you’re asking them to do.

Do you know that feeling?

You want to be calm, peaceful, and zen-like. But the problem is, you have tried being nice and keeping your cool. You have forced a smile and stated your requests calmly – more than once.

But your children still won’t listen!

So you have tried being firm and authoritarian. You’ve tried letting them know that you mean business.

But they still do something else instead of the thing you’ve asked.

An Ongoing, Frustrating Pattern

Most days follow the same pattern which goes like this:  After repeated requests to do something (or not do something), and your kids not following, you start to get annoyed and you begin to raise your voice.  But this only makes them even more excited and pay less attention to you.

Your voice raises higher, and the battle has begun. You feel like this battle must be won. You’re the parent, after all.

So you get stern and demanding. You issue threats, you get in their face, you tell them to go to their room, and that they need to learn to listen to you and to respect you.

They shout back at you, ‘NO!’ and they run off somewhere else.

Now you’re offended.

You think, how dare my child talk back to me that way! So you get in their face and shout ‘Never talk to me that way again!’

And now the whole house is full of tense, upset energy and your kids either start yelling back, or they’re in tears and want you to hug them.

Why Won’t They Just Listen?

You wonder to yourself, how did it get to this point? Why won’t your kids just listen to you?

For the crying kid, do you console them and hug them? What message will that send?

For the kid still yelling back, do you get physical with them? Do you spank? Do you pick them up and put them in their room, or in a corner?

Now you’re lost, and it seems like there are no answers.

What do you do?

You start to wonder where all the disrespect came from.

Are their friends a bad influence? Is your spouse or partner letting them get away with too much?

Maybe, you think, it’s time to be demanding and stern from the start. No more being nice. It’s time your kids start learning about real respect.

How many times have you been there?

What Is The Answer?

I’m going to give you the answer of how to get children to listen (or, at least, what has worked for me!).

But I really want to convey two things first.

One – it is possible.

Yes, it really is possible to get your kids to listen.

Maybe not 100% of the time, each and every time, but most often, if you learn to get it right, you can do it.

Two – it probably isn’t going to be that easy.

Why? Because this is mostly about changing your own attitude, and from my own experience and in helping others too, I’ve found that changing your own attitude first can be a major hurdle to get over.

Just keep in mind, it can be done. Stay focused on the goal: How to get your kids to listen to you, without yelling, without frustration, without things getting out of control.

Helping and Guiding, Not Controlling

First of all, it helps to learn to give up the idea that you have to have control over your kids.

We might think that we want to control them, but do we really? I don’t think so.

I think what we really want the most is to be able to help and guide them, and have them trust us so much that they willingly do what we ask of them, without fussing, whining and complaining about it.

In other words, we need to become their partner in the journey of life, as they grow and learn and explore the world.We want to avoid being a controlling dictator in their lives, who they only listen to because they are afraid of us.

While you may be able to get your kids to listen by having them be afraid of you if they don’t listen, there is one major problem with doing it this way. The problem with fear-based, strict authoritarian parenting is that it comes at the high cost of having your relationship with them suffer.

A child who grows up with a torn relationship with their parent is often likely to develop more serious problems down the road, as they grow into adulthood.  Problems such as depression, low self-esteem, higher possibility of drug use, and other emotional and behavioral problems.  (Yes, there is research to back this up)

Besides that, wouldn’t you rather have your children listen to you without having to shout and scream and spank and punish?

Now this is how you do it.

How To Get Your Kids to Listen To You

The 4 Things You Must Do

1. Develop and continually nurture a close, connected relationship with your child.

This is the number one thing to keep in mind in order to have your kids to listen.

Without that strong bond, it will always be a battle.

Your connected relationship with your child is the key to getting them to listen to you.

Let me say that again in different words.

It is vitally important that you maintain a close, connected relationship with your child. Not only for getting them to listen to you, but it goes a long way towards their long term emotional well being. And it helps your own emotional wellness too.

Does anyone not want that? A child who listens to you and respects you, a tight bonded relationship with them, and improvement in emotional well being for everyone involved?

That’s the first, and in my opinion, the most important part. Maintain a close bond with them – ideally, at all times, each and every day.

2. Focus on what you want your child to do, not what you don’t want.

Whenever you need to correct your child, ask them to do what it is you want them to do, instead of asking them to not do the thing you don’t want.

Telling them “don’t do that” is rarely helpful. It keeps all the focus on the unwanted activity. But turning your focus to the wanted behavior – and keeping your focus there – helps them to get their attention on it too.

This can take practice. Many of us (including myself) have been raised being told what not to do. For example: “Stop doing that”, “I told you not to climb on the back of the sofa”, “Please don’t touch that”, “Never hit your sister”, “I don’t want you to ever say that”, “Stop lying to me”, on and on, it’s the way many of us were raised ourselves and it can be a very hard habit to break.

But getting out of the habit of stating what you don’t want, and learning to say what it is you do want, will help tremendously in getting your kids to listen.

If it helps, think of it as a Law of Attraction thing. That you get what you focus on. That energy goes where attention flows.

When we focus on what we don’t want, we tend to get more of it. Same thing with focusing on what we do want. If this is a challenge, it’s just something you have to practice at.

If you’re not so inclined to a Law of Attraction approach to seeing things, put it another way – it’s just a retraining, or reprogramming of the mind. Whenever you think of the unwanted, just learn to snap out of that and instead turn your attention on what is wanted.

3. Be mindful of your own attitude and behavior.

My own personal mantra for life in general is: Attitude Is Everything.

I’ve said it many times in my posts and articles. Attitude is everything. Change your own attitude first, before you expect an attitude or behavior change of anyone else.

This is especially true when it comes to raising children. Kids for the most part mirror the energetic attitude and behavior that the parents bring to a situation. (Not always, children have their own unique personality traits too)

When you the parent are nervous and upset, your child almost inevitably will become nervous and upset.

When you the parent are angry and combative, your child can become angry and combative too.

But when you the parent are calm and able to maintain a positive and encouraging attitude, your child will mirror that too.

Not always, but overall, it’s you the parent that has the power to diffuse a situation, or to make it worse. It all depends on the attitude you bring into it.

Even when your child is upset and emotionally turbulent, your own stability and calmness can help turn the whole situation around.

This is all the more important because eventually your child will learn how to handle emotionally difficult times by watching how you handle emotionally difficult times.

If you can learn to reframe most situations, from disappointments, angry and upset moments, and turn those around into soothing, comforting and even positive situations, you will be teaching your child one of the most helpful lessons they will ever learn in life: How to cope with the trials and tribulations of life.

If you don’t know how to cope yourself with life, then it’s time to learn, so that you can pass those skills along to your child. Is it not what you would have wanted, when you were a child? For your own parents to have learned and modeled strong skills for dealing with life’s challenges?

If you need help, there are plenty of resources these days on the internet and in books and courses. If you think it’s something I can help with, contact me.

4. Listen to them.

This goes for just about anyone. If you want someone else to listen to you, you have to be willing to listen to them.

Communication is a two way street. Children aren’t going to want to listen to someone who doesn’t listen to them in return.

Turn off your phone for awhile, ask your child about something going on with them, and tune in.

Don’t correct or criticize or evaluate. Just listen. Nod your head and ask curious questions.

Be the example for them of someone who listens, and model what a supportive, open conversation looks like.

Summary – How To Get Kids To Listen

To summarize how to get your kids to listen, these are the four things I recommend:

  1. Develop and maintain a close connection with your child
  2. Keep your focus on what you do want (not what you don’t)
  3. Be mindful of your own attitude and energy that you bring to the situation.
  4. Learn to listen to them.

Again, I’m not saying this is easy.  Easy or difficult doesn’t have anything to do with it though.

What I am saying is that it is absolutely possible, and that it does work.

If you can stay closely connected, mindful of your own attitude, keeping your focus on asking your child what it is you want, and spend time listening to them too, you will be able to get them to listen to you.

Do what you have to do – for your children and for yourself!

If I can answer any questions, leave a comment for me here.

Or consider joining my closed Facebook group, Peaceful Parenting Community.

One Response

  1. Eileen October 27, 2015

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