Sometimes I think my kids go through life with a pair of headphones on. Not just any headphones, either. Instead of noise-cancelling headphones, they’re wearing parent-cancelling headphones, because they rarely seem to hear me when I talk to them about certain subjects — like cleaning up, or doing chores, or taking a bath, or getting ready for bed. In other words, anything that they don’t want to do.

I can’t complain too much. After all, I probably did the exact same thing to my parents. But there are ways to get your kids to listen to you without having to beg or bribe them. These methods may not be easy and they may not be our first instinct, either, but they will work.

1. Don’t Always Be the Bearer of Bad News

If your boss kept coming to you with negative news or endless to-do lists, what would you do when you saw him coming? You’d run and hide, or you’d do whatever you had to do to get him to leave you alone. If you constantly ride your children and are viewed as a taskmaster, guess what? Your kids will run and hide when they see you coming. Try to keep a running tally in your head about how often you are coming to your child with a demand rather than a smile and a kind word. 

2. Give Them Space When Needed

Each of us needs time to decompress from the day, and you need to figure out when that time is for your child. It might not be a good idea to talk to your child about sensitive topics right after she arrives home from school because she’s tired, anxious about her homework, or consumed with some event at school. Maybe you should wait an hour if there’s something important to discuss.

3. Turn Off the Noise

Silence and peacefulness allow for richer, more rewarding interactions. It’s probably not a good idea to walk into your child’s room and turn off their music without asking. Yes, it will accomplish your goal of getting their attention, but it also sets up an immediate antagonistic situation. Explain to your child that you have something to discuss with them and that when their show is over, or there’s a break in what their doing, they need to come and find you. Give them the responsibility and trust that they will do the right thing.

4. Be Direct and to the Point

We’ve all been in conversations with people who simply don’t know when to stop talking. It’s frustrating, boring, and annoying. Before you talk to your child, formulate a plan about what you want to say and how you want to say it. Think through their possible reactions in order to figure out your replies.

5. Don’t Just Talk — You Also Need to Listen

If you bark orders at someone, or simply talk and talk and talk, the other person is going to tune you out and your words will lose their meaning and relevance. Be brief and then allow your child to ask questions and express their thoughts and concerns.

6. Be Patient

If you are trying to get your child’s attention while they are in the midst of a tantrum, it might be best to be quiet and wait until they’re done before trying to get them to listen to you. When they’re in a foul mood, they probably won’t hear you anyway so just wait until it passes and they can calm down and listen.

How do you get your kids to listen? Share with us in the comments!

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