How to Get Your Kids to Listen

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There comes a period when your child simply doesn’t want to listen although they perfectly understand what you said. Furthermore, they know exactly what they can do and what the cannot do even without you saying it. It’s just that they won’t, it’s simple as that. So what is the right thing to do and how to correct those behavioral issues when they appear? 

First, you must acknowledge that the old way isn’t working. At one point it will be obvious, so it’s best to do this as soon as the problem starts to occur. Once you’ve set your mind on fixing the issue, the rest is just following simple steps and see what works in their case. So let’s elaborate on this course of action in the following sections.

Here are the things you can try in order to get your kid to listen:

  • Keep the instructions simple
  • Try to stay calm and speak clearly 
  • Introduce detention
  • Introduce rewards
  • Observe their behavioral pattern throughout the day
  • Don’t give them unnecessary attention
  • Show that you understand how they feel at times

Keeping it Simple

When you perfectly understand something, you can explain it with a couple of words. The same thing can be said with requests. When a kid, especially a toddler, hears you ramble about how they should do something and why they shouldn’t do something else they tend to get confused about what you really want them to do. They start to think about what you said and process the information, instead of just following your instructions. 

By the time they get it, they’ll form their own opinion and in most cases get the feeling that it’s not that urgent, serious, or that there is another way of looking at that matter. To put it in simple words, they create a workaround that fits their needs and impulses at the time. Therefore, disobeying your command. To prevent this and to simplify things you should keep your instructions short. Don’t elaborate on why they shouldn’t do it at the moment they are doing it, just say the words. Maybe they won’t get how serious you are in first attempts, but after a while, they’ll get the message.

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Loud and Clear

Seeing your kid do the same thing over and over again even though you said no, can be infuriating. They are capable of testing your patience to the extent of making you frustrated on a daily basis until that type of emotional state becomes normal for you. They are kids and they don’t understand how emotions work entirely, that’s why you are here to explain and to be the example.

So instead of letting things get to that point, you can change the way you interact with them. More precisely, how you issue commands and statements. The important thing is to stay calm, but that doesn’t mean that you should let them do whatever they want. The key is in staying calm while issuing commands. Try to speak out, and be clear about what they shouldn’t do or how they should behave. Again, this doesn’t imply that you should yell but you will need to raise your voice by a notch. Stay calm, speak clearly and don’t let them see you’re upset.

Detention Time

When everything you came up with doesn’t seem to help, and you lose hope because you start to think that’s the way you kid is, it’s time for detention. Not for you, for the child. The moment you notice that nothing is working and that your child gets the impression they can get away with almost anything, try to find something they don’t like doing. Something they genuinely hate doing. This will be their detention, and every time they behave in a bad way, or intentionally misunderstand your command, you will know what to do. For some kids is standing in the corner alone, for other’s it is to cut down on sweets. The list goes on and on.

The important thing to know is that there is always something that they detest, or can’t stand doing. Because they were scared of doing it before, or expect to get it every time (if it’s a good thing), denying them that will make all the difference in fixing their behavioral issues. When figuring out how to get your kids to listen you should keep in mind things that they dislike, and use them to correct their behavior. It’s as simple as that. However, this method is recommended only when words don’t help and you’ve tried everything else.

Time for a Reward

Just like there’s time for detention, kids should be rewarded when they actually get the message and start behaving the way they should, or the way you want them. Encourage them to try with the good behavior by offering a reward every time they follow instructions and commands. Combining this with the detention gives them a choice. Either they’ll behave in a good manner, or they’ll get punished. 

The famous “stick and carrot” approach works in most cases and is recommended when toddlers start with their tantrums and behavioral issues. Normally between the ages of 1 through 4. When they are unreasonable, introduce punishment. When they start to understand the consequences introduce rewards. For a kid, everything and anything can be a reward if presented right. From a simple walk in the park to playing baseball in the backyard with their dad and getting them ice cream and sweets. Although, the last one will sound quite appealing to an average kid, try to be creative and change the way you reward them every time. See what works in their case and stick to the routine.

Monitor and Observe

In between these sessions of long talks, methods, and attempts of correcting their behavior you should always keep your eye on their behavior pattern throughout the day and keep track of the changes. Once the process has started and they notice you are changing your strategy, they will try to adapt and find a solution to get what they want. That’s why you will need to notice these attempts and act accordingly.

Observe and monitor how they behave, whether they’ve changed their ways even in the smallest extent. This way you’ll know whether to step up or back down on some methods and approaches. If you get the feeling that they’ve learned their lesson, just continue the way you were acting and remind them from time to time of the rules. After a while, they will understand the consequences of acting in a bad mannor in oppose to that when acting normal and in a good way.

Ignore Every Request but That Which is Important

Learning how to get kids to listen takes a while. It’s a slow process, but when using methods that guarantee results, at least you know that you’re going somewhere. One of the things you’ll learn during this time is to ignore their irrational request. Every time they behave in a bad way or act impulsively, just ignore them while reminding them of the rules and consequences of not following those rules. 

However, this doesn’t mean that you should ignore their basic needs and deny them the attention entirely. They still need a hug, kind words, and a soothing touch. Just be sure not to praise them or give your attention when they don’t deserve it. In other words, don’t empower the bad behavior just because it’s easier that way. Be strong, and stay on the path, and they will understand that their way simply isn’t cutting it. To get what they want they’ll have to cooperate and learn how to behave.

Love and Understanding

After all is said and done it’s important to have a talk and let them know that you are there for them and that you actually understand how they feel. Talk about feelings, words, and consequences. Explain how it is normal to be upset and crucial that you state your mind. But also let them know that there is a way for everything and that they simply need to work on their method of getting what they want. 

Depending on their age, intellect and emotional state, you will have to choose words, use body language and apply other ways of showing love and understanding. Teach them empathy and work on their social skills, let them get a chance to understand their feelings and emotions, and give them the mean to correct their behavior themselves. Encourage them by saying that it’s how grown-ups act. This works in most cases. Give them the explanation they need and they’ll surely resonate on that and change eventually.

What’s crucial to understand about behavioral issues and problems with kids, is that it’s usually just a phase. However, you shouldn’t just let them be and think that its something that will fix on its own. You have to work on them and their issues and show them how to behave. Otherwise, they’ll stay like that and strengthen their bad behavior and wrong beliefs. Have patience, trust in your methods and stay on the path. The alternative is that in time,  they will know the tragic extent of your failing to raise them properly and pass it along on their kids. You’re here to prevent that.

Author: Jonathan M. Ward
Author: Jonathan M. Ward

Himself a father of two, John is obsessed with getting the most out of every children’s product on the market, finding value wherever it can be found. His years of study in developmental psychology coupled with his passion for parenting make him an invaluable asset to our team.

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