My Children Don’t Listen!

Child Not ListeningThis is probably the most common parenting challenge I come across. WHY won’t my children LISTEN?!! HOW can I get them to LISTEN?!!

Child not listening explained

It can be so frustrating for parents when they cannot get their children to listen to them. However from what I have observed, when parents say ‘not listening’, what they are really saying is ‘the child is not doing what I am asking them to do’, which is very different. I am sure the child has heard what the parent has said, but they decide not to take action.

Generally the reason a child decides not to do what the parent asks is because it goes against what they WANT to do or they can’t see the reason WHY. Let me explain. Quite likely our children aren’t that worried about getting to Grandma’s on time, eating a healthy and varied diet, or getting a good night’s sleep. They would rather keep playing, eat chocolate, and stay up at the end of the day with Mum! So these ‘things’ that Mum is asking me to do, go against what I WANT to do (and who likes to be told what to do?!).

So by looking at it from our children’s perspective, we see clearly that it is actually the parents who want these things, not necessarily our children.So how can we get more cooperation from a child who doesn’t always willingly comply with our requests?

Getting our children to listen

So how exactly can we get more cooperation from our children? Well firstly, we need to role-model good listening ourselves! With parents regularly on their mobile phones, tablets, laptops and computers, it certainly appears to our children that we really aren’t listening! The usual grunts and 1-2 words we give in response whilst on our screens, doesn’t show our children we are listening to or hearing them. This certainly is not the way we want our children to behave, so we need to START WITH OURSELVES.

When your child approaches you, put down your phone or tablet and look straight into your child’s eye, so that they know they have your FULL attention. Give them time to get their message across. Really listen to what they are saying. Getting them to feel heard will go a long way in getting to them cooperate in the long term.

Secondly, give your child some time each day just to talk to you. Let them offload from the day. Don’t offer suggestions or try to help them (as hard as this is!), just be the listening ear they need. They more you let them talk without judgement or trying to ‘fix’ things, the more they will trust you and open up.

The more you do these 2 things, the more cooperative your child will be when YOU want to talk. If they are seeing you regularly putting importance into listening by doing it yourself, they will soon follow suit.

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