Getting your kids to listen without yelling may seem impossible. I know it may sound too good to be true so before we dive on in let me paint you a scenario that you may have found your self involved in multiple times.
Have you ever asked your kids to do something and all you got in return was the sound of crickets?
You give your child the benefit of the doubt and think “Maybe they didn’t hear me” so you ask again nicely but more firm.
Still, you get nothing in return. All of a sudden you find yourself caught in the “repeat. remind. repeat. remind cycle.”
You start feeling your blood boil, emotions elevate and you are getting angrier and angrier that your child has not listened to a word you have been saying for the past 5 minutes!
If you have found yourself caught in this type of situation a time or two you may know what happens next. You start yelling and threatening to take away TV time, video games, friend time, etc.
But, hey now your child has listened to you!
Wouldn’t you love it so much more to have your child listen the very first time you say something without you having to yell, repeat, remind, nag, punish or even threatening?
Let me tell you some good news…You can have your child listen and do what you ask the first time! Below are 8 steps for success in getting your kids to listen to you the first time.
In This Article
Get Your Kids To Listen Without Yelling: 8 Steps For Success
1. Get On Their Level
Getting down to your child’s level does amazing things. Not only does it help to strengthen communication but you are confirming that your child sees and hears you.
Yes, this does mean that you will have to pause doing the dishes, laundry, making dinner or doing your makeup. Eye to eye contact is key. You don’t want to be standing above them barking orders or yelling at them from a different room.
You are speaking with your child, not at your child.
Being empathic to children is so crucially important but it is so often looked over. Showing empathy to our children lets them know that we feel for them, we validate their emotions, and that we hear them.
A simple act of being empathic can get children to listen.
Showing empathy may look something like this:
Mom: Hey Tanner can you please go take the trash out?
Tanner: I don’t want to. It’s dark and cold outside. I’ll do it in the morning.
Mom: Ohhh man, I hear you, I don’t like going outside when it is dark and cold either. Would you like to take the trash out now or in 5 minutes?
Once you apply a dose of empathy redirect back to the task that was asked of your child by giving them options of when that task needs to be completed.
3. Avoid Saying Don’t And No
When “no” and “don’t” are you go-to answers, it’s no wonder why children stop listening. Even as adults we don’t like being told no or don’t.
When giving negative commands to our children we are causing them to process our commands twice. They think “What am I NOT supposed to do?” and “What am I supposed to do instead?”
Never tell a stubborn child (or any child) what to do, describe what you are willing to allow!
Instead of saying “don’t take your brother’s toys” try “you may play with your bother as long as you are sharing the toys.”
Instead of “don’t leave your clothes on the floor,” try “I only buy clothes for kids when they treat them nice and keep them off the floor.”
The same applies to the word “no,” when you start saying “yes” your answer will start to surprise your child and they will start listening and pay attention when you ask something!
Instead of saying “no, you can’t go play with friends,” try “I would love for you to be able to play with your friends. Would you like to on Friday or Saturday?”
Instead of saying “no, you can’t eat fruit snacks for breakfast,” try “fruit snacks sound delicious, would you like to have them during lunch?”
There are times when a firm “no” is required but, by saying “yes” more often you will increase the chance of your child will tune back into you.
4. Problem Solve Together
Helping our children to develop the skill of problem-solving will benefit them for the rest of their lives.
Plus when you turn the problem-solving over to your children you will be amazing at the less involved you will be in situations. You will hear the cries of “mom! James hit me!” or “Kate keeps touching me” much less!
When you ask your child to do something such as taking out the trash.
Handing the problem back to your child may look a little like this.
“Hey Tanner can you take out the trash please?“
“I don’t want to. It’s cold and dark outside.“
“Ohh man, I hear you, I don’t like going outside when it’s cold and dark too. What do you think you are going to do?” (this question you are handing the problem back to your child)
“I don’t know. Can I take out the trash in the morning?“
“I hear you, But I asked for you to take out the trash tonight. Would you like some ideas?“
“No, I don’t want any ideas“
“Okay, no problem. Please just make sure the trash gets taken out before dinner. Let me know how it works out.“
When you are using this method. Try to avoid telling your child which choice is best. Let them figure out which ones will work or have them come up with their own.
5. Be Short And Sweet
I am as guilty as anyone with this one. Parents and especially moms tend to turn a five-second conversation into a 10-minute discussion!
The less you say the more powerful you become. If you have ever watched Little House On The Prairie you may have noticed how little the dad talks. But his kids do anything he asks right away!
Giving children long lectures on how they need to be better and do better doesn’t work. Think of a time that you lectured your child. Did you get what you wanted to out of the lecture?
My guess is that you probably didn’t. To get your kids to listen without yelling, remember when you want to get your kids to listen be as shot and sweet as possible that way they won’t even have enough time to tune you out.
6. Say Thank You Before The Task Is Completed
In our household, we call this pre-framing. Thanks to handy dandy Google this is what Pre framing means.
To “pre-frame” people is to prepare them to be persuaded or to see something in the way you wish, by inducing them to adopt a perspective or attitude, a “frame”, that will predispose them to accept a particular point of view and make them receptive to what follows.
The next time you walk in the door and you know that your child will just drop their coat on the ground. Say this before walking in the door “Thank you for hanging up your coat” This will encourage your children to good behavior more than “you better hang up your coat, I don’t want to see it on the ground”
Children will usually live up to our expectations when are more positive. By letting your children know ahead of time that you trust them to do the right thing you are creating open communication that will help increase the likelihood that the task will be completed.
7. Have Them Repeat Back To You
A great way to know if your child understood what you said. Have them repeat what you said back to them! It is so simple but INCREDIBLY effective.
There was a study that was in the medical field that showed that 40-80% of information patients are told during office visits is forgotten immediately, and nearly half of the information is retained incorrectly!
Now, remember this is study was done on adults. So children are not the only ones who struggle to retain information!
Once you have made eye contact with your child, your made your speech short and sweet, and you have clearly and calmly explained what you need them to do, calmly ask them to repeat back what they just heard.
This not only works with older children but with younger ones as well! We started using this method when Bobbie was a little over two. And when you are using it for younger children you really have to make sure that it is only a few words you are telling them. And you may have to help them to repeat it back to you.
When you get your kids to listen without yelling by using this method. You will be shocked by how well it works!
8. Use Enforceable Statements
We use enforceable statements all the time in our house. Why? because they work! I learned this method from Love & Logic and it is one of my favorite tools I have learned.
When we are constantly telling our children what to do and they don’t comply we find ourselves at a loss on what to do or say next, then guess what? our children learn that our words are meaningless.
Using enforceable statements we are able to enjoy the benefits of always being able to follow through on our word and for our kids to listen!
Here is a list of some enforceable statements you can use today!
- I only give dessert to kids who finish their dinner
- I’ll read to you as long as none of your fingers are in your nose
- You may be with us as long as you allow Dad and me to finish our conversation without being interrupted.
- Dinner is served until 7:00 P.M. You may want to eat enough to hold you until breakfast.
- You may get online as long as I am around to supervise
- You may get out of the shopping cart as long as you stay by me
- You may play with your friends when all of your chores are done
- I’ll listen when your voice sounds like mine
- I do extra things for kids who allow me to sleep at night
When you use enforceable statements you are increasing the odds that your children will listen very carefully the next time you say something.
Why Do Kids Not Listen?
This is a great question! Why are they tuning you out? why are you having to repeat the same thing over and over until you have to yell to get your kids to finally listen?
Young children all the way through the teen years have a huge desire and need for power. It’s almost like they are hard-wired for the need for power. Often times when children don’t have opportunities to use their power in positive ways- what shoes or clothes to wear, picking what games to play, or what movie to watch on family movie night they will exert their power in negative ways.
Children DO have control over their body and language the most common and frustrating power struggles occur when children use their body and language to go against our requests.
When children choose NOT to listen, they are asserting their power. Their behaviors are expressing the need for more control and decision making in their lives.
Does this mean that your children get to rule the house? absolutely NOT! You are still the parent however, by implementing a few parenting techniques you can give your children power and control within boundaries and limits that YOU set.
Get your kids to listen without yelling takes time for you and for your child to start tuning in. Keep in mind that the term “not listening” is a very broad term. What are you exactly referring to when you say that your kids don’t listen?
Do kids sometimes flat out ignore you? sure, but since “not listening” is such a broad term it can difficult to see if there are really any underlying issues going on.
Because more often than not, it’s not so much about not listening but more about some underlying issue that your child is struggling with.
For example, is your child tired? hungry? overwhelmed? not feeling well? Or is there a deeper issue going on that is causing your child to disconnect? such as
Classes at school?
Not every shutdown of communication means that your child isn’t listening. You may need to create a safe pace to open up to your child and dig in to discover what may be really going on. Then the both of you can work together to set an action in place to specifically address the problem.
When you consistently practice these steps you will start to notice that it is easier to get your kids to listen without yelling. You’ll start to find peace and harmony in your home because everyone has a voice and your home is a safe place for everyone to be heard and understood.