In our “Mom lives”, we all say at one point or another “my kids just wont listen”!
It’s a common problem, that can be simply fixed, and is even easier to prevent!
Much like when you are taming tantrums and whining in toddlers, the most important place to start is to figure out the why. Why does your child not follow your directions in any given area?
No matter what the age, from toddlers to teenagers, there are 3 main points you need to examine in order to figure out which ball was dropped, so you can pick it up and keep on rolling!
3 Reasons Your Kids Don’t Listen
This can come into play two different ways when it comes to getting your child to listen. Either there is inconsistency when it comes to the expectations, or inconsistency when it comes to consequences.
If either one of these is not clearly defined, and followed through on, expect there to be inconsistency in your child’s ability to follow instructions!
As long as you make it a priority, being consistent is a simple trait to achieve.
Consistency will come from…
- being clear on your expectations, and not changing them to suit the situation, time of day, or surroundings!
- accepting no less than what you request
- stating what the result (consequence) will be if instructions are not followed, and following through!
Outlining a clear consequence is key in getting the long term results you desire (your child making the right choice for themselves)!
Think about it, if you thought you could skip work without any repercussions (no trouble from your boss, no loss of pay, etc.)…wouldn’t you do it?!
Developing the association between action and consequence needs to start as early as possible, so make sure that you not only lay them on the line before taking action, but be prepared to actually follow through so they know next time you mean business!
2. Not Leading By Example
Too many parents follow a “do as I say, not as I do” method of parenting, and while it is still a form of inconsistency (between what you say and what your child sees), this can cause much worse behaviour in a shorter amount of time.
If you are telling your child that they need to buckle their seatbelt for safety (for example), but you never buckle yours, this is telling them through your actions that it’s not a priority. So really, they are not ignoring your advice, they are listening to your actions, which will speak loud and clear every time!
This also comes into play when you look at developing certain daily habits, like healthy eating. If you swear up and down that it is important for you child to eat their fruits and vegetables, but then you turn around and are packing the grocery cart with cookies and chips, there’s a disconnect between what they are hearing and what they are seeing…and they will almost always follow what they see over verbal direction!
3. Unclear Expectations/Misunderstandings
This is another one that can present itself in multiple ways.
The first is an issue in the way you are communicating your expectations. Either you haven’t taken the time to explain specifically what you expect, or were unclear when describing consequences. Be sure to also include the “why” behind your request, this will help guide them in the right direction when the choice is theirs to make later on in life!
The second is an issue on the receiving end. This will very commonly come into play with toddlers, who are still developing their verbal and listening skills, and many times a day will run into words that you use regularly without thinking, but they have no idea what it means!
It’s important to not only pause for a moment and confirm that your child understands your expectations, but to also take the time to try and understand the actions they take in the end!
An Example of Parent-Child Misunderstanding
An afternoon comes to mind when Maddie and my hubby and I had gone for a walk in the park.
Maddie was taking her time, blowing bubbles, strolling along behind us…but my hubby was in a rush! Needless to say, his impatience was shining through in the tone of his voice, and Maddie picked up on that and got frustrated…throwing her bubbles on the ground.
Now at this point, both of them are in a downward spiral of frustration. Maddie starts walking, then stops, and starts walking back the other way, which my hubby computes as “not listening” and begins to raise his voice in order to get his message across. She starts getting upset and crying, he’s frustrated, and finally I take a minute to step in after standing back and observing this whole situation unfold.
What he understood as disobedience, she saw as doing as she was always told…don’t litter!
She was turning back to pick up the bottle of bubbles she dropped on the ground to put it in the garbage can, but he was already so flustered he didn’t see what she was actually doing (as opposed to not listening), and she couldn’t find the words she needed to explain that she thought she was listening!
It can be tempting to assume your child isn’t listening to you simply because they aren’t doing exactly what they were told, in the timeline or way you want it. But don’t be afraid to take a step back and really look at the situation…they may actually end up showing you that they really have been listening, and might even have a better way of going about your request!
Have you struggled with getting your child to listen? How do you change the way you communicate to get your message across? Share in the comments below!
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