What do you do when your child just won’t listen?


You say in a quiet and offhand way that maybe it would be fun to go to the park later today. It wasn’t a big deal but boy did the kids hear you and hold you to it. In a more direct and clear way you ask your kids to pick up their toys and the do not seem to hear a word you say.

How do we get our kids to listen all of the time?,

 What do you do when your child just doesn’t listen?

Many years ago I heard a story about an eight-year-old I will call Dylan. Dylan was playing in his friend’s backyard. He lived two doors down from Dylan’s home. At around 5 p.m. Dylan’s mother leaned out the back door and called him to come home. Dylan kept on playing. About 10 minutes later, she again called him and he ignored the call. When, five minutes later she again called, Dylan said good-bye to his buddy and got ready to go home. As he was leaving his friend’s Mom asked him why he didn’t go home the first time he was called. “Because she never means it until the third time,” was his reply.

Parents often complain that their kids don’t listen and heed. Often the reason is that they know you don’t mean it.

They learn that when your tone of voice changes, when you use their middle name (Theresa Christine, get home right now!), or after three times calling you mean it.

Kids learn from experience so we need decide what we are teaching them. If Dylan’s mother had called him for dinner and then went ahead and served the family, he would have quickly learned that when she calls him there is a reason.

Mind you, if you have always called him multiple times, you need to let him know that the rules have changed. To suddenly change and say nothing to the child is unfair.

So sit down and tell the kids that the game is over. You will call them once and then get on with your day.

Or you can move close to them and call. If they ignore you, walk up to them, take their hand and say, “when I call you, I expect you to come.” You do this even if they are busy playing with their friends.

Sometimes, the problem is that they are engaged in an activity that is difficult to stop. So give a warning call. “Dylan, I am going to call you for dinner in five minutes.” That gives him time to close his video game and save it or to wrap up activities with his friends. Then call him in five minutes and proceed to serve dinner.

How do the adults in your family call each other and respond? Do you call another adult for dinner and receive no response or a mumble that gives you no information about when you might see them? If it takes numerous requests to get all the adults to the dinner table or to the door and ready to leave when going out, then that is what your child is learning.

Yelling down the hall is not usually very effective. Calling your kids works better if you go close to them and use a quieter voice.

When my children were young and playing outside I bought a bell. At dinnertime I would ring the bell and they knew that meant they needed to wrap up their activity and head home.

I also used the bell inside the house. Actually, I have found that a dinner bell gives a universal message. Anytime I have ever rung a bell folks of all ages show up expecting that it is mealtime.

When you call the kids because it’s dinner time or time to leave the house, make sure that you are also ready. It’s not fair to call them and then have them sit and wait while you put on your make-up or check your email.

Be clear with your children about your expectations when you call them.  Be respectful and give them some notice when they are truly engaged in an activity. Make sure you are modeling the behaviour you want from the kids and be ready for them when you do call them.

Sarah is shy, Jared is bossy and Pat is easy-going. What do we need to know about different temperaments?

Every child is unique and different. My mini guide e-book, Vive la Différence: Raising Children with Different Temperaments addresses some of the temperaments we see in our kids.

I looked at my two children who are as different as night and day. Then I consider my siblings and we are a textbook example of different.

But, now I have three grandchildren, all the same age and the differences from their births has been striking.

The result is the e-parenting mini guide, Vive la Différence: Raising Children with Different Temperaments. The guide is available on my website.

How Can I Bring Kathy to My Community?

I offer keynotes and workshops, have written books and have ongoing newspaper columns, books, blogs and newsletters.

And, no matter what the actual topic, they all share a basic value that I call:

P.U.R.E. Parenting.

P — is a parenting plan

U — is unconditional love

R — is respect for your child as he is right now

E — is encouragement

I look forward to working with you for your professional development, workplace wellness or parenting education event.






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