“My children just don’t listen to me!” How many of us have said this in exasperation? Certainly, most parents would say that this is a frequent complaint they have of their children.  It is true that when our kids ignore our requests to turn the television volume down or put their clothes in the wash that these may seem to be trivial issues. However, for parents who have experienced it, it can be very annoying, especially when you are busy and really need your children’s co-operation.

Threatening and punishing our children over such mundane requirements may be effective in the short term, but the reality is, that it is likely that our kids will tune us out even more, and then even these threats will soon become empty and irrelevant.  

The best approach is one where we can get our kids to listen and respond to us the first time round. There are a few simple steps we can take to try to make this happen. 

Try Using Just One Word

It may seem ridiculous that saying just one word can help convey your message when an entire sentence cannot. However, a longer sentence may also easily make your child tune out midway. Saying just one word however, offers them no excuse and also acts to reinforce a request. For example if you want your children to put the dishes in the sink, try saying “dishes” instead of “how many times do I have to remind you to place your dishes in the sink?” 

Explain Why Your Request is Important

When you are trying to get your children to do something, you have to remember that just like us, children do not like being blindly commanded. It is confusing and serves no purpose if your children do not understand the rationale of what they are supposed to do. Therefore, always let them know clearly why you are asking them to do the things that they are doing. For example, if your children are playing with their toys and they leave them out in the open, tell them that their toys become a danger to everyone else in the family if others trip or slip on them and become injured. Often enough, children who understand why they need to do something will learn and appreciate what you ask of them.

Give Your Child Choices

Another way to increase co-operation in your children is to offer them choices instead of ultimatums. For example if you and your family are at the beach and you want your child to have sun block on, you could offer your child these choices, “you can put on your sun block and play in the water, or you could sit with me in the shade until you’re ready to play in the water.” You will find that your child would be more than willing to co-operate. 

Avoid the Broken Record Syndrome

Your children are more likely to ignore you if you keep repeating yourself. At most, repeat your request once if you find that your children are not listening and let them know of the consequences if your instructions are not met. If you are again ignored, do not repeat yourself a third time. Instead, follow through with what you had said. Be firm with your actions and your children will learn the importance of the lesson. 

Key Takeaways 

  • Inform your children of the consequences that will follow if they choose to ignore you, be firm and follow through with what you have said.

  • If your child is ignoring you or refuses to listen, do not berate them with a lecture. Nagging will not get your point across and it leaves the door open for your children to ignore you in future.

  • Explain the reasons behind your instructions. If they know why they need to do certain things or why you want them to act in a certain way, your children will be more likely to listen to you.