Getting Your Children to Listen to You

He hears what you're saying -- but is he really listening?
He hears what you're saying -- but is he really listening?

Here are some techniques that you can use to improve communication with your kids. It doesn't necessarily mean they'll mind you or agree with what you're saying, which is okay, but at least they'll hear what you're saying.

Talking vs. being heard

Mother: "I've informed you a googolplex times to abstain from vexing your sibling."

Child: "Huh, Mom?"

When you talk to your kids, you must keep a few things in mind.

If you have something to say, and you want to be heard, do the following:

  • Get down to your children's level.
  • Use simple words.
  • Get to the point.
  • Don't yell.

Getting down to your children's level

When you really want your kids to hear you when you talk, physically get down to their level. If you can't squat, pick them up and put them on your lap. Look them right in the eyes, speak calmly and slowly, and say what you have to say. Don't be vague or babble and don't try to impress your children with your fabulous expanded vocabulary.

Encourage your children to look you in the eye. Kids can be standing right in front of you and have a bobbly head like those dogs that sit in the rear window of some cars. Bobble, bobble, bobble. They're not paying attention.

You certainly don't need to get down to your children's level to say, "Good morning," or "Are you hungry?" Save this kind of action for serious conversations such as, "Now, Simon, what did you do with Mommy's keys?" or, "Do you understand why you got into trouble for hitting your brother over the head with the bat?" But don't forget that the most important part of communicating is being a good listener. Communication can't work both ways when you're doing all the talking and none of the listening.

Using simple words

As adults, parents sometimes are brave enough to say, "What exactly does that mean?" They do this hoping they don't sound too much like a dork. Kids, on the other hand, will smile at you, and nod, or better yet, stare at you with blank looks on their faces.