How to get Kids to Listen Without the Battles: 10 Practical Tricks from a Mom and Dad

How to get kids to listen

“If I have to tell you one more time!” “How many times do I have to tell you?!” “Hello, are you even listening to me?!”  Does any of these sound familiar?  We can’t tell you how many times we have felt invisible around our kids.  

Sometimes we feel as if our kids are purposefully ignoring us and being disobedient just to get under our skin!  

Well, that actually may have some truth to it.  Kids always exhibit bad behavior for a reason.  The key to getting kids to listen is first understanding the why behind their behavior.  

Disobedience is due to an unmet need of the child.

Sometimes we like to think of it this way; your child will listen to you once you listen to them. 

Let’s explore some ways we have found helpful in being able to understand and meet our child’s needs so that we can have mutual respect and FINALLY get our kids to listen! 

Belonging and Significance are the KEY to Success with These Tools

10 Tools for Getting kids to listen

  1. Give them choices
  2. Give them quality time
  3. Stay calm
  4. Encourage communication
  5. Use consequences appropriately
  6. Consistency and routine
  7. Actively listen
  8. Give them positive power
  9. Use either or statements
  10. Positive Reinforcement

The KEY to your Success is to Provide Belonging and Significance!

Father and daughter doing dishes

Our parents, friends, colleagues, or neighbors will give their advice on how to get kids to listen and what they have done for their kids, so why won’t those tips help ours? What seems to work for one child sure doesn’t work for the other. We get it! No two children are the same and each requires a different approach, so how should we teach them to listen?

We have done extensive research on ways to parent and teach our children. We finally found a golden gem that truly has transformed our family and we believe that no matter what personality your child may have, these tools will help because they address a key underlying concept that all human beings need and thrive on… a feeling of belonging and significance. 

Positive Parenting Solutions is a parenting course we stumbled upon that has transformed our family. We HIGHLY recommend it to ALL parents!!!

The entire foundation of the course is built on the concept of belonging and significance.  Alfred Adler was a medical doctor and psychotherapist who developed the theory of belonging and significance in the early 1900s. This theory was based on the fact that all children (and even adults) need to feel a sense of belonging and that they contribute in significant ways within their family. When a child is misbehaving, it is because one or both of these 2 concepts is lacking. 

So how can we create an atmosphere within our homes to provide a feeling of belonging and significance for our children so that listening becomes easier and more natural? Here are the top 10 tools we have learned that have greatly improved our efforts in teaching our children how to listen.

Top 10 Tools to Get Your Kids to Listen

With an understanding of your kids’ need to have belonging and significance, each of these steps will become more meaningful. So keep that in mind as you read and apply each of these tools. 

1. Give them choices

child picking out their clothes

When children are given every opportunity to make safe and harmless choices on their own, they feel empowered. This provides a great level of significance. Regardless of age, children can make a variety of harmless choices such as picking out their clothes, choosing what plate or cup they want, what activity they want to do, or in what order they want to complete chores or homework. 

We often will give our boys the chance to choose between 2 appropriate amounts of time to continue playing before needing to be done to get ready for bed. We ask them things like, “Would you like 5 more minutes or 7 more minutes to play in the bath before getting pajamas on?” We are completely okay with them playing for 7 more minutes, but this way will give them a feeling of ownership over their life, and they are far less likely to argue and more likely to listen when the timer goes off. 

2. Give them quality time

Father and son playing together

Children are great at picking up on whether or not their parents are truly listening or engaged with them. It always seems that our boys act out the most when we are on the phone or working on the computer. They feel ignored and thrive to have attention. When we provide quality time free of distraction every day, children are less likely to seek attention in negative ways.

Positive Parenting Solutions teaches a great tool we like to call “Special Time.” We strive every day to take at least 10 minutes with each child individually where we put aside all electronics and distractions and get into their world! This is the time we truly see their imaginations, creativity, and personality soar! Our boys love being able to choose what they want to do with mom and dad, without feeling a need to compete with siblings or other adult distractions. When our children feel we are invested in them, their desire to obey will increase naturally!

1000 Hours Outside says that 75% of the time we spend with our kids throughout their lifetime will be done by the age of 12! That is mind-blowing for us! We really need to take time for the little things while our kids our young!

3. Stay calm

Father talking with son

This step is extremely crucial, but yet one of the hardest! We are far from perfect and although we try each day to stay calm, our buttons get pushed too. The important thing is to keep trying! 

Children are always seeking attention, even if it is negative attention. If we explode our children receive a payoff! That is exactly what they want and in that moment they have won. By remaining calm, no matter how frustrating a situation may bit deprives our children of the negative attention they are seeking and will prevent power struggles. 

Your calm demeanor will help your kids to be calm. Kids are professionals at mirroring our behavior. 

It can also help your child to have a calming corner that gives them a place to calm down. This has helped us a ton!

4. Encourage Communication

Mother consoling her child

One of the best tools in helping children to communicate and express themselves is to use “I feel” statements. These statements go as follows: “I feel…when you…and I would like it when…” 

Here is an example of how it has looked when we are trying to communicate with our boys. We say, “I feel (frustrated) when you (will not stop playing with a toy to listen) and I would like it when you (look at me while I talk to you so that I know you are listening).” 

It is very critical in these moments that we also allow our children to use “I feel” statements. Theirs might go as follows: “I feel (angry) when you (want me to stop playing) and I would like it if (I could finish my dinosaur battle and then I can clean my room).” 

There are going to be times when it is not conducive to compromise, but a large majority of power struggles can be avoided when we take time to communicate feelings with our children and come to a reasonable compromise.

In this example, the parent may want the child to stop immediately what they are doing to follow the commands of the parent when in reality it may be completely reasonable for the child to finish their dinosaur battle (which probably won’t take very long) and then they can clean their room.  Think about it, we would be frustrated too if we had to stop whatever we were doing to follow the demands of another person!

Open communication is the key to solving almost any problem, and it goes both ways!

5. Use Consequences Appropriately 

Mother talking to child

Consequences play a crucial role in guiding children toward responsible behavior. Instead of punitive measures of punishment, focus on natural consequences whenever possible. For instance, if your child doesn’t clean their room, they might miss out on watching a movie. This allows them to understand the connection between their actions and outcomes. Ensure consequences are logical, related to the behavior, and communicated clearly, emphasizing the opportunity for learning and growth.

Positive Parenting Solutions provides a great tool to help children have control over their choices and sets the stage for natural consequences, whether good or bad. This is the when-then tool! For example, you can say to your child, “When you are done with your homework, then you can watch a movie.” It will then be up to your child to determine what outcome they want and it takes you out of being the bad guy if they don’t finish their homework.

6. Consistency and Routine

Boy brushing his teeth

Children thrive in environments that provide a sense of security and predictability. Establishing consistent routines helps them understand expectations and builds a foundation for effective communication. Consistency creates a structured framework, making it easier for kids to follow rules and routines. When expectations are clear and consistently enforced, children feel more secure, leading to better cooperation and attentiveness.

Our boys thrive on routine and when we are consistent in implementing that routine then it is easier to get them to listen because they already know what we expect from them.

7. Actively Listen to them

Father and son sitting together

Actively listening to children fosters trust and strengthens the parent-child relationship. When children feel heard, they are more likely to reciprocate and listen in return. Practice reflective listening by repeating their concerns, allowing them to express themselves fully. This not only validates their feelings but also encourages open communication. When kids experience that their thoughts are valued, they become more receptive to guidance and direction.

There have been countless times when our frustrations as parents have been eliminated once we take the time to listen to our kids and their feelings. There is never one side to the story and when both parents and children take time to listen to each other, so many problems will be resolved free of strain and stress!

8. Give them Positive Power

Mother and daughter cooking together

Empower children by involving them in decision-making processes whenever appropriate. Provide choices within acceptable parameters, allowing them to exercise autonomy and feel a sense of control. This positive power reinforces their ability to make responsible decisions, enhancing their confidence and willingness to cooperate.

When children are given every opportunity to contribute to the family their feelings of significance will increase drastically, which in turn makes them naturally have an internal motivation to continue to contribute in positive ways. 

Every time our boys are provided moments of contribution, we love watching their eyes light up and they start seeking more ways to be helpful! Such a fun and big win!

We call our empowering moments for our kids’ family contributions! Some of the ways we have our 5-year-old and 3-year-old contribute is by folding their laundry, helping unload the dishwasher, and helping dad take the trash out.

9. Use Either Or Statements

Mother parenting her toddler

Either-or statements are a great tool that works effectively in getting kids to listen, especially when your child may not want to listen at all. Here is an example…”Either you can eat your dinner, or you will miss out on eating a cookie.” Again this puts the consequence in the child’s power and leaves them the ability to choose. 

This kind of technique is also helpful in providing clear options and avoids overwhelming children with too many decisions. For example, instead of saying, “Clean your entire room right now,” you could instead say, “Either you can start with your toys or make your bed first?” This approach encourages cooperation and helps children feel more in control of their actions.

10. Positive Reinforcement 

Parents celebrating with child

Highlight and acknowledge positive behaviors to reinforce them. Positive reinforcements can include verbal affirmations, encouragement, or pointing out the positive results associated with that behavior. Acknowledge their efforts and achievements, fostering a positive environment that motivates continued good behavior. Children are more likely to repeat these behaviors in the future when we focus on the positive aspects of their actions. This creates a cycle of positive interaction and responsiveness.

When providing positive reinforcement it is best to avoid giving praise and instead acknowledge and encourage the hard work and progress your child made. When we give praise it often causes the child to develop an external motivation rather than an internal motivation to progress. We never want children to be motivated by others to do things, but yet be motivated from within to succeed. Provide encouragement not praise!

Key Considerations for Successfully Getting Your Kids to Listen

Timing is Important:

Choose appropriate times to communicate with children. Avoid addressing issues when they are upset or distracted. Pick moments when they are more likely to be receptive and engaged and after everyone is calm and in a better frame of mind to communicate.

Create a Positive Environment:

Foster a positive and supportive atmosphere at home or in the classroom. Children are more likely to listen when they feel safe, valued, and respected.

Establish Expectations:

Set clear expectations for behavior and communicate them consistently. When children understand the rules, they are more likely to listen and follow through.

Wrapping up with our experience with helping our boys learn how to listen.

Parents and child in the sunset

Parenting is never easy and just when you think you have one challenge accomplished, new curveballs are thrown. We have also learned that what works for one child does not necessarily mean it will work for another. There have been so many times we have had to take a deep breath just to refrain from yelling, but with these tools we have provided we have noticed incredible results!

It does take practice and a lot of self-control to master these tools, but do not lose sight of your goal because it will come! Children are the biggest blessing and want to be heard as much as we do.

Since implementing these tools in our home we can literally feel a weight has been lifted and prayers have been answered. We attribute almost all of our success and advice to Positive Parenting Solutions! Give it a try! We promise it will change your family life too!

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