Actions to Take When Your Kids Aren’t Listening

Oh, kids… so full of wonder and innocence. Some would say that they’re our greatest gift to ourselves… until they become possessed by an angry monster that can only do the opposite of what you ask them to. Instead of becoming frustrated and punishing them, have you ever asked yourself why they might be acting out?

Kids can become disobedient for a number of reasons, and half the time it really isn’t our fault.

Before becoming angry, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is my child hungry or tired?
  • Have I been paying enough attention to them?
  • Have I been listening to them when they talk to me or ask me questions?
    • If the answer to this is “no,” then they have probably learned from you that it’s not important to listen to other people. Remember that you are always setting an example for your children in everything that you do.
  • Would a different environment improve their behavior?
    • Maybe your child needs to get outside, or maybe they’re too hot and need to cool off inside for a while.

You can also change the way that you are speaking to them. To help them shift their attention to you, try the following:

  • Hold both of their hands lightly so that they stay turned towards you.
  • Get down on their level, and ask for their eye contact and don’t speak unless they’re looking at you.
  • Have them repeat back the general idea of what you’re saying to them when you’re done speaking.

Instead of punishing them, try giving them a choice. For example, if your child is refusing to finish his dinner, give him two choices: “Would you rather finish your dinner, or stay in your chair while everyone else watches TV?” If your child feels like he has a choice, he will be more willing to cooperate with you because he won’t feel like he’s being forced into making either choice.

It may also help to ask your child how he’s feeling. He may be more willing to open up and talk to you if you ask him a question and show that you’re willing to listen to him. Remember to keep your language positive, even if you feel defeated.

“You seem really frustrated. What is bothering you?”

“Oh, that sounds really hard. How can I help?”

Once your child expresses his feelings, you can then talk about them together. Once he’s calmed down, he will be more willing to listen to what you have to say, since you showed him how to listen to others.


We hope that these ideas have helped you to understand why your child may not be listening at times, and that you will find a quicker solution the next time it happens.


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