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


 Do you sometimes feel as if you’re just wasting your breath when you talk to the kids? You are certain that you were very clear with your child about what you needed from her, but she just ignores you.

Maybe it’s because she simply doesn’t need to listen. You will repeat yourself or let her get away with not listening because it’s not worth the hassle.

How can you get your child to listen to you when you speak? Let’s take a look.

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

Many years ago, I heard a story about eight-year-old 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 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.

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. 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.

Bring Kathy to your Community

Do you want to hear more? Kathy is always happy to come and speak in your community, at you event or as a workplace wellness presentation. On her website  you can find more information on her material.

My presentations will 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

Digital Books Make Parenting Information More Accessible.

There are times when digital is the perfect answer and let’s face it, on a holiday having access to hundreds of books on one small tablet is ideal. I always have my kindle with me when I travel.

There are lots of times when a busy parent would like to be able to simply read and my books are digital and make it easier for you to take a look.

Two of my parenting books started as print versions but the third is only digital. The first two are also now in digital format. Who’s in Charge Anyway? talks about roots. It provides a clear road map for parent to focus on the tough but rewarding job of raising children to be responsible, self-disciplined adults.

But Nobody Told Me I’d Ever Have to Leave Home talks about raising children to become capable young men and women.

The books are down to earth and common sense as well as easy to read. If you want some basic parenting tips and information these books are a good place to start.



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One Response to What do you do when your child doesn’t listen?

  1. Par Donahue says:

    Thanks for this very informative post. I leaned this lesson many years ago from my dog trainer. “Tell them once!” She told me with her finger in my face. What a concept! I have given this advice to many, many parents over the years of my pediatric practice. It works miracles! You can read my Jan 24 post, “Tell them once”, here: http://www.parentingwithdrpar.com/tell-them-once
    Thanks again, for this post,and all you do to support parents and children. I look forward to reading more of your work.

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