Five Steps to Get Your Child to Listen
Five Steps to Get Your Child to Listen

Key Points

  • There are many different reasons why our children won’t listen.
  • It’s important to reverse ‘not listening’ sooner rather than later.
  • Consistency is key!

What is it about listening that makes asking for a rational task to be done to fall on deaf ears? The constant repetition becomes an inescapable loop that results in nothing but exhaustion and annoyance.

Parents, it’s never ending! We’re here to teach you five ways to get your child to listen. We use these techniques in our parent coaching classes and it works wonders. But before we get into the techniques, we’ll explain why ‘not listening’ happens in the first place. Raise your hand, or your glass of wine, if you’ve seen these in your family!

Why Won’t My Child Listen?

No Motivation – the effort to do what they are being asked to do is greater than the reinforcement they will receive. Alright, so what does this mean? It means that you’ve got to reassess what is motivating your child at that moment. You cannot use a cookie to motivate behavior if the child does not want the cookie.

Too Much Repetition – do you feel like your child is tuning you out? Do you give up after saying things two times and no follow through? This is another great example of why our children won’t listen! Most likely, you are repeating yourself too much which is not good. The kids will turn you off and stop listening (aka Charlie Brown’s teacher).

Modeled Behavior – children are skillful imitators! They may have picked up on others getting attention for not listening. They will imitate that at times to try to gain attention for not listening. Do you see this happening in your own home? Reinforce the behavior you want to continue seeing and ignore the behavior you wish had gone extinct a long time ago!

Tone of voice – the next time you give your child a task, listen to the tone of your voice. Are you using directive language? Sometimes children will think that it is an option to do what they are being told because of the language we use or our word choice. Think: clear, concise, consistent!

Let’s reverse these behaviors!

Opening Up Our Children’s Ears

1) Gain attention. Make sure your child is looking at you and can hear what you say. Make eye contact! This may require several requests for your child to look you in the eyes.

2) Model behavior. Be the example in the household. Listen to others in your home, at the gas station, at the grocery store, make eye-contact with your partner; model, model, model! Better yet – include them by role-playing and see how quickly it’ll stick.

3) Set clear expectations. This is the follow through. Be sure to let your child know that you will only be saying things one time. You will not repeat yourself. Have a consequence ready for when they do AND DO NOT follow your directions after the first time you say something.

4) Use proper tone of voice. If you are giving a direction, use directive language. Stay away from sarcasm and/or highly emotional tone of voice. Say things one time and follow through. Don’t be like Charlie Brown’s teacher!

5)  Reinforce when the behavior occurs, not just when it doesn’t. When your child makes eye contact, follows through, and listens to you, reward the behavior! Celebrate the good!


If we have taught our children to not listen (inadvertently) then they will need to be taught to listen. Not listening is learned behavior. We hope you’ll try these techniques with your children.

Looking for more guidance or clarification? Join us in our Spring Parent Coaching Class where we help and empower you! Send us a note to be one of the first to sign up!



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