4 Ways to Get Your Kids to Listen
Help your children listen better with these tips.
The importance of listening
Listening skills are critical for building better relationships and achieving success in life. Developing good listening skills takes a focused, concerted effort, which is challenging enough for adults. So, it’s not too surprising that listening is difficult for kids as well.
Things that commonly prevent people of all ages from being good listeners include thinking about what to say next while the other person is talking, zoning out, getting distracted, intentionally tuning the others out, and more.
Why is understanding this important for getting your child to listen? Because the example you set as a parent has one of the most significant influences on your child’s life. If you can model excellent listening skills for your children and have empathy for them when they are struggling to listen, you’ll be well on your way to helping them. Here are four ways to get your kids to listen:
Good listening starts with focusing your full attention on the person talking. Face them and maintain eye contact. Same goes for getting your children to listen to you. Move close to your child. Get down on their level so you can look them in the eye and help them focus their attention on what you are about to say. This will improve your child’s ability to focus at school as well.
Just like parents, children make assumptions about what is going to be said to them, which prevents them from fully listening at times. One way to overcome this is to ask your child to repeat back to you what they think you just said. You can check to see if they have heard you correctly and correct any misunderstandings. This also helps children follow instructions better.
The world is full of distractions, and kids’ lives are no different. It can be hard for people of all ages to concentrate, so simplifying your communication is a good way to be more clear and ensure you are heard. Using fewer words is a helpful way to get your children to better understand you. Kids often know what they need to do but require some simple reminding.
In an article from Parents.com, one mom recounts her success with this simple strategy. Rather than giving her girls a 10-minute lecture on why she wasn’t their servant and her house wasn’t a restaurant, she simply started saying “plates.” This was a simple reminder to her daughters that they needed to carry their plates to the sink when they were done eating. It worked.
No one appreciates being told what to do or constant micromanagement; this is true for both adults and kids. Adults expect a certain level of respect and trust from their bosses and peers on their work, as well as feedback, teaching, encouragement, and support in their jobs.
As a parent, you must use this same tactic with your children. Instead of just constantly ordering your kids around and expecting them to obey, you must be willing to teach and give sincere feedback, appreciation, and support.
One way to do this is to state the facts, not orders. This method is discussed in one of the most praised books about communicating with kids, called “How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk.” For instance, instead of saying, “You're ruining the floor,” when your child soaks the bathroom after a shower, try saying, “Water on the floor can seep through and ruin the ceiling below.” This approach says to the child, “I know when you have all of the information, you’ll do the right thing.”
Listening is a life-long skill that requires patience, time, and practice. Learn more in our article about Communicating with Your Kids Effectively.