How To Get Your Kids to Listen
If you here, you are most likely a parent who is at the end of your rope. Your child isn’t listening to you and you’re frustrated. Or, maybe you are just tired of repeating yourself 1,000 times a day. Am I right?
I get it. Trust me. I have two kids of my own.
So, if you want to learn some tips for helping your kids become better listeners and make your everyday life better, keep reading!
First, let’s talk about the overall plan (what we are going to cover in this post):
IT ALL STARTS WITH YOU (why modeling good listening skills is so important)
TEACHING YOUR KIDS HOW TO LISTEN (sometimes kids need step-by-step instructions)
USEFUL TIPS FOR EVERYDAY LIFE
REWARDS AND CONSEQUENCES (considering if they work for your family)
IT ALL STARTS WITH YOU
What we see we are likely to repeat. I think this just makes sense. Imagine if you had always lived in a messy house, cleaning may never have occurred to you because you never saw it done. Now, imagine that your parents would always put their plates away after eating and made their bed before going to work. If that is the behavior you grew up seeing, it is likely that you would do the same.
So, how does this translate into teaching your kids to listen?
It means you have to lead by example, a.k.a. listen to your kids! I mean really listen. Don’t just sort of listen as you check your email. Look at them and really listen so they feel heard. Now, if you are a parent who has a kid that talks all the time, you might be thinking “I can’t possibly listen to EVERYTHING my kid says. I wouldn’t get anything done.” If this is you, don’t worry. My son is a talker too. You don’t have to give your kids your 100% attention all the time. But, giving them 100% of your attention at least a little each day can really go a long way.
Here are 2 things to think about when listening to your kids:
1.) Sometimes summarizing what your kids have said in your own words can show them that you are paying attention
2.) Keep in mind that sometimes people don’t want advice, they just want to feel heard. Even kids! So, if you hear yourself telling them what to do before they have even finished talking, stop! You may be thinking, “Hey, I have life experience. I have a lot to offer. My advice could make their lives easier.” That may be true, but it doesn’t change the fact that your kids want to be heard and may want to figure some stuff out for themselves.
Sometimes when I want to give advice, I ask my son if he just wants me to understand what he is telling me or if he would like to know what I would do if this had happened to me. And…he lets me know. So, when in doubt, ask.
TEACHING YOUR KIDS HOW TO LISTEN
Sometimes kids fail at listening because they don’t actually understand what it means to be a good listener or what they are doing wrong. So, what can we do to help them? It’s simple. Teach them how to listen. Sometimes this isn’t as simple as it sounds, so I have included a free youtube video that you can watch with your kids about what it means to be a good listener.
If you prefer to simply talk to them, here are a few ways to explain what it means to be a good listener.
1.) Being a good listener means trying to understand what someone is saying. Not just hearing their words, but figuring out what they want and what they are trying to say. So, if your dad tells you to clean up, does he just want you to pick up one or two things? Or, does he want you to clean up everything you took out?
2.) Being a good listener also means listening with your whole body. (Did your mind just go “What…?” That’s okay.) Listening with your whole body means that you are not only listening with your ears, but that you make eye contact and pay attention to what your body is doing. If you are looking around the room or pulling your shoe laces when someone is talking to you, that person might think that you are not really paying attention.
USEFUL TIPS FOR EVERYDAY LIFE
Have you ever not iced that when people yell at you, you get defensive? Even if they have a point, their point is overshadowed by your outrage. Rational thought is overtaken by thoughts like, “How dare he speak to me that way!” “She is so mean!” “I can’t stand him right now!” “I don’t even want to talk to her anymore!” Sound familiar?
Keep in mind that when we yell, it is likely that our kids will have an emotional response (like feeling sad or angry) instead of listening to what we are saying.
If you notice your kids doing a good job, let them know. Sometimes that is all it takes to motivate them to keep up the good work!
Try giving options
If you ask your kids an open-ended question, their response could be just about anything.
Mom: Would you please clean your room?
Kid: No, I think I will go play soccer. Thanks.
Instead, try something like this, “Would you like to clean your room before you take a shower or after?” This gives them a choice, which will help them feel like they have some control, but limits the options so that their room will actually get cleaned!
Try using a timer
Depending upon the age of your child, you may want to try out a timer. I use this when I want to limit the repetitive questions.
Check it out:
Kid: Mom, will you play with me?
Mom: Sure, right after I finish the dishes.
Kid: Mom, are you done with the dishes yet?
Mom: No, I just started.
Kid: Mom, when do you think you will be done?
Mom: In about 10 minutes.
Kid: Has it been 10 minutes yet?
Kid: When will 10 minutes be up?
Enter the timer:
Kid: Mom, will you play with me?
Mom: Sure, right after I do the dishes. I will set the timer for 10 minutes.
When it goes off, we can play.
Way less stressful, right? If you are looking to cut down on stress, a timer might be a simple solution. Keep in mind, you might have to use the timer a few times before your kids get the hang of it.
REWARDS AND CONSEQUENCES
I feel like people have different reactions to the idea of using rewards or consequences. So, if any of these ideas seem like they might work for your family, try them out! If not, that is okay…it’s just not for you.
Let’s start with rewards.
The reward system you use will depend on your kid. For some kids, simply telling them they are doing a great job really helps motivate them to do well. For other kids, a reward might be a toy, a game, or extra playtime. You could do this randomly, like say, “Hey, insert your kids name you have been doing such a great job listening, so I bought you this toy!” Or, you could take a more systematic approach by using a chart. I like using a chart; I feel like it helps my kids see the progress they are making.
My son has a chart where he completes activities for a specific number of points. When he reaches a certain number of points, he earns a game. It helps keep him motivated and keeps him in the habit of doing things that his dad and I believe are good for him, like reading or practicing Spanish.
Now let’s turn to consequences.
I believe that consequences have a place in my home. If my son does something that I have specifically asked him not to do and I believe that he knows better, I will give him a consequence, such as loosing his iPad privileges for the day. If you want to use consequences with your kiddo too, the first step is getting to know what they value. If you take away something they do not care about, then it probably will not motivate them to make better choices.
What and Why
I would definitely recommend explaining what you are doing and why, every step of the way through this process. Whether you are giving them a gift as a reward or taking something away as a consequence, they should understand why.
You completed your chart by having great behavior. I really appreciate how you listened really well last week. I only had to ask you to clean you room once, and you did it right away. Let’s go get your reward.
I feel that you have not been listening to me, which makes me feel disappointed. I asked you to clean up your room several times, and you didn’t. As a consequence, you have lost your iPad privileges for the day. If you want to be able to use the iPad tomorrow, you need to clean your room and listen the first time I ask you to do something.
Consequences can also go over better once kids understand that they are in charge of themselves. If you would like more info about this topic, just check out this video:
Guys, thank you so much for checking out this post, and sticking with me all the way to the end! I hope that some of this information helps you! And,
keep in mind that if you have been in the same pattern for a while, change may take time. But, you have taken the first step by looking for information that can help you, your kids, and your family. Good job you! Just be sure to stick with it and keep up the good work!
About the author:
I am Jessica from Learning with Jessica Diaz. I have been a teacher for eight years and am a mother of two. I am always reading; I love learning new things! The advice I give you is made up of a combination of real life experience and years of reading! Hope you enjoy.