How To Talk So Kids Will Listen To You?

How To Talk So Kids Will Listen To You

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“The attitude behind your words is as important as the words themselves.” – Adele Faber

“Turn off the TV now Kim! You have been watching it for hours,” screamed Diana. “No, my favorite movie is on, and I want to watch it!” said 9-year-old Kim defiantly. “Turn it off and clean your room now!” retorted his mother. “Nooo! I wanna watch the movie now!” screamed the kid!

In the end, Kim succeeded in watching the movie and Diana ended up cleaning the room yet again.

This is what many mothers around the world have to deal with. If you want to know how to talk so that kids will listen, read these pointers that MomJunction has compiled for you.

Simple Tips To Get Your Child To Listen To You

Annoying. Exhausting. Frustrating.

That is how you would feel when your day is spent trying to get the kids do something but fail at it miserably. Why won’t they listen to what I say? How difficult is it to follow a simple instruction? What can I do to make them listen to me? These questions linger on your mind.

If these are the questions you ask yourself a million times every day, keep reading this post. We have some of the best tricks and tips that can get your child to listen to you and do as you say.

[ Read: How To Handle Disrespectful Children? ]

1. Get the child’s attention

You want your children to listen to you? Get their attention first. Only when they pay attention to what you are saying, do they listen. When they don’t pay attention, they just hear sounds but do not comprehend. How do you get the kids to pay attention?

  • Remove any distractions like a TV, music in the background, video games and other toys that they are playing with.
  • Be there with the child in the same room, so he gets the message right.
  • Get down to the child’s level (height) before you start a conversation. Sit down if necessary and look into his eyes while talking.

Teach your child how to pay attention by example. When they speak to you, drop whatever you are doing and listen to them.

2. Be specific

Get to the point. Don’t use long sentences and big words when asking the child to do something. Keep it short and simple. That will make it easier for your son or daughter to remember what you told them. Most of the time, children don’t do what you want them to because they forgot what the instruction was. Blame it on wordiness!

Here are some ways to get the kids listen to you, without using too many words.

  • Use single words (sometimes two or three too). Instead of saying “Brush your teeth before going to bed,” just say “Teeth!” at bedtime. Or you could just say “room!” or “To the room!” to tell them to go to their rooms.
  • One instruction at a time is the best way to ensure that your kid follows all your instructions. If you have multiple things for the kid to do, then wait until the child finishes one task before giving out the next instruction.
  • Number the instructions if you want to give him all the directions at once and also remember them. So, say something like “First feed the dog. Second, take him for a walk. Third, wash your hands once you are back home.”

[ Read: Effects of Verbal Abuse on Children ]

3. Give information

When you want your child to listen to you and do something, like set the table correctly, make sure he knows what “setting the table properly” means. When you want the child to do something well, give him all the information he needs – what he has to place on the table, where he has to place it, and how many items he needs to put on the table.

4. Tell, don’t ask

“Honey, can you pass me the salt?” is a question. The answer can be a yes or a no.

When you want your child to do something, you always want the answer to be a ‘yes’. So if you want the child to listen to you and follow instructions, don’t ask. Just tell them.

For example, “Robbie, I want you to clean your room in the next one hour” or “Please put your shoes on” or just “Shoes please!” is what you need to say to get the job done.

5. Wait to give the kid time to process

‘Wait time’ is a concept that most teachers practice at schools. When you ask or tell the child something, you wait for three to seven seconds to let them process what you said and understand what they need to do. Yeah, that’s how they get a child to listen in school!

Some kids may need more than just a few seconds to process and comprehend what you say. So, if a child does not respond immediately to what you say, he may not be ignoring you. He is just trying to figure out how to respond. Give them that time and enjoy your coffee while they process the data!

6. Check for understanding

Once your child responds to what you said, you may want to check if he or she has understood what needs to be done. For example, if your child has been rude to someone and you say “Go and apologize to so-and-so,” the kids needs to know that he or she has to say “I’m sorry” to so-and-so. Likewise, when you say “set the table,” the kid should know what he or she needs to do.

7. Give the children options

Not all kids take well to instructions. When you tell them what to do, they may start to get defiant and rebellious, especially as they approach their teenage. What do you do then?

You give them the power, the power of choice. Give them options that will make them do what you want them to do. Example, “Betty, you can either clean your room now or skip going to the movie with your sisters.” Or “You can either set the table or do the dishes later.”

[ Read: How To Deal With Child Tantrums? ]

8. Set expectations

Rules and expectations are important to get the child to listen to you. Rules come with expectations and consequences. So set the rules and expectations. Be clear and firm when you talk to your children about what you expect from them.

One way to be clear about your expectations is to list down the rules on a sheet of paper and stick it to the fridge or a door. You need to review and revise the list from time to time. Remember that rules are non-negotiable and you should not let the child (especially older kids and teens) drag you into an argument about them.

9. Build a bond

The relationship you have with the kids also determines whether or not the child will listen to you. Children want to be close to their parents, so nurture the relationship you have with the child. Let there be respect, love, and friendship. When your relationship is good, the child would be happy to listen to what you say, because he or she cares about you and wants to make you happy.

10. Empathize

Sometimes, a little empathy can go a long way. So instead of saying “Stop hitting your sister,” say something like “I understand that you are mad that your sister broke your toys. But being mad does not make it okay to hit someone or push them.”

Instead of “Switch off that TV now!”, you can say “I know you love watching this show, but it is a school night and you need to be up early tomorrow.”

[ Read: Teaching Children Empathy ]

11. Be clever, not loud

Yelling, screaming or being loud is one of the first responses a parent has when the child refuses to listen or adhere to the rules. But seriously, does that really help?

No. And you know it! So how do you resist the urge to yell and still get the child to listen?

i. Breathe

Every time you want to scream at the child, pause for a second and take a deep breath. Inhale. Exhale. Take time to cool down before you talk to the disobedient child. If you get worked up and scream, you will make the child react defensively. That will only make matters worse.

Now that is not what you want, is it?

ii. Focus on the behavior

Children are not the problem. Their behavior is. So when you want your child to learn something, you need to encourage them to do it. Don’t punish them. Instead of screaming “Don’t do that!” or “Stop it!” tell them softly. Say “good job!” or a simple “thank you!” when they listen to you.

iii. Don’t be mean, mean business

Being mean or rude to the child because he is not listening to you will not solve problems. If you want something done, be firm and to the point. Not rude or mean. Calm down and talk to your child in a quiet tone, but be firm. Let them know you are serious and mean business. You want them to listen to you and do what they should do.

iv. If you end up yelling, it’s okay

But in the end, remember that you’re not perfect. Nobody is. So if you lose it and yell at the child sometimes, it is okay. Don’t blame yourself for it. But, do make up for it – start with an apology for shouting. But do not change your stance – be firm about correcting the child’s behavior and explain why they should or should not do something.

The trick is to practice “not yelling” and still get things done.

[ Read: How To Handle Hyperactive Children? ]

Tips To Make Your Teens Listen To You

Most of the above tricks work for older kids and teens as well. But sometimes, they are not enough. Here are a few more tips you can try to make the teen respect you and listen to you.

12. Be honest

When dealing with older kids and teens, honesty is the best policy. It may not always be easy, but being open with them about your concerns regarding their behavior and your fears can help them understand the reality of the situation. In a way, you will also be modeling good behavior and gain their respect for being upfront and truthful with them.

13. Be the parent, not friend

Being friendly with children is one thing, but letting them take advantage of your leniency is another. You can be your child’s best friend, but in the end, you are also her or his parent. Let that be clear to the teenager or older kid so that they know disrespect and rebellious behavior will not be tolerated.

Treating the teenager as an adult, giving them responsibilities and trusting them with important tasks will help you gain their trust. And when they trust you, they will respect you and also listen to you.

How To Get Your Toddler Listen To You

Your toddler is still not mature enough to understand the importance of doing something or not doing something. Explaining things is not an option here. How do you get a three or two-year-old child to listen to you then?

  • First, get their full attention. Do not start talking until they are paying attention to what you are saying.
  • Make sure you and your child are on the same eye level, and slowly connect with them. Just start a conversation about what they are doing.
  • If you have to repeat something, the little one does not have your attention. So get back to step one and get his attention. Yes, you will need to be patient with toddlers.
  • Use short sentences – as few words as possible when you talk to a toddler. Lengthy sentences can be confusing and difficult to process.
  • Try to see things from the kid’s perspective and acknowledge his emotions. This way, you can also teach the child emotion words and how to express his feelings.
  • Do it with him – teach the child to do something through cooperation. They learn faster when they see you do something and try to imitate.
  • Listening exercises and activities are a fun way to teach the little ones how to listen.
  • When you want the child to repeat the behavior, create a routine. That way, even if you forget it or even if they are in a hurry, they will do it.

And to teach the kid to listen, listen to them when they speak.

[ Read: Ways To Manage Out Of Control Kids ]

As much as you want the children to listen to what you say and do what you want them to do, you should not force them to do something. The idea is to get them to accept the idea or responsibility and do what they should of their own volition. The next time you want your four-year-old girl or a seven-year-old boy to listen to you, don’t yell.

Use these tips and tell them what needs to be done.

How do you get your child to listen to you? Share your tips here.

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