Getting Kids To Listen

Please pick up your toys, my darling child.

Pick up your toys, please.

Hey you! Pick up these toys NOW!


Getting kids to listen to you is like being a one armed wallpaper hanger. It can be done, but its darn near impossible. The funny thing is that your kids are listening to you. Ever slipped out a “naughty word” and thought nobody heard you? Yup, that’s getting repeated at church next week. Ever mentioned that you are thinking about making cookies? Yessire, you are going to hear that repeated to you for the next 6 hours in 45 seconds intervals. So see, they ARE listening to you. Children are equipped with selective hearing though. It has a neat little filter that catches phrases that are directing them to do something “Not Fun” and tossing it in the brain garbage.

So, how do you talk so kids will listen?

Make listening fun! It bypasses that little filter and you have effectively tricked your child into listening to you.

Ways to make listening and following directions fun:

  1. Talk in a whisper like its a secret. Kids find listening to secrets incredibly fun!
  2. Make the chore a game. “Race mommy to pick up the most toys” Turn on the radio and challenge them to see how much they can get done before the song is over.
  3. Give options instead of demands. Instead of “Brush your teeth or else…” try saying “Do you want to brush your teeth first or put on your pajamas?” Giving kids choices helps them do what you want, but they believe it was their idea.

What are some ways you get your kids to listen?

Categories: getting kids to listen, parenting

5 replies

  1. Oh boy. I find that as soon as you start yelling, they stop listening. And if you yell all the time, they will tune out everything that you say in a regular voice, and then you're stuck yelling for the rest of your life.We use a timer here at our house. I say, “Ok, boys, how many minutes do you think it will take us to clean up this mess?” They'll say something like “Four million!” or “Fifteen”, and then I say, I bet we can do it in seven minutes. So we set the timer and see if we can beat the clock. It works pretty well. :)As for listening…I'm still learning how to make that happen. But my three year old said “Ho-bag” yesterday, so the trick is in there somewhere….

  2. I've taken to threats and yelling lately. Oh, right. You asked how I get my kids to listen. Its certainly not working for me right now! I need to find where I left my patience…

  3. The race thing is really working with my 2 year old, but the 6 year old…oye. I need to step up my game. We did the whole, “whatever is not picked up in 10 minutes gets thrown away.” Ten minutes later, clothing and trash were all over the floor. Totally backfired. Ugh.

  4. I learned very quickly that giving options works great! I learned it because I'm a pediatric nurse. “Do you want to take the red medicine first or do you want to take the white medicine first?” There's no “It's time to take your medicine, ok?” because that gives them the option to say no. After all, you did end it with ok? I've learned a lot of great parenting skills (mostly what not to do) by watching parents at the hospital!

  5. So cute. Such great ideas. I need to remember to do them more often.

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