SIX REASONS YOUR CHILD MIGHT NOT BE LISTENING TO YOU:
LISTEN OR OBEY?
A lot of the time when we say “my child doesn’t listen” we actually mean “my child doesn’t obey”. Children often DO listen to parents, but decide they don’t want to do what’s been asked of them.
Is this frustrating? Yep. But children are their own people with their own wants & needs. What we can do is try to get them to cooperate. An important part of this is knowing when to pick our battles. Is it especially important that they do what we want in this instance? If no, let it go. If yes, try to find a way to encourage them to work WITH you, rather than simply obey.
TOO MANY WORDS
We often give all the information (along with all the steps) in one go. This is easy for us to follow, we’ve had decades of practice. But, young children aren’t very good at it. They often have trouble processing multiple steps of instructions all at once. Try only 1-2 instructions at a time in a slow & clear manner. Ask them to repeat it to make sure they understood.
LACK OF CHOICE
Offer choices. Children often WANT to be helpful. Letting them be part of the decision-making increases chances of cooperation. Let them pick what to wear, to have lunch before or after a TV show. This won’t always do the trick, but where possible try to work WITH your child rather cajoling them into following orders.
Have you ever told your kids that they’ll never see a toy again because they won’t put it away? Kids are smart – they learn quickly when we mean what we say & when we don’t. They won't take us seriously unless they know we’re going to follow through.
Trying to talk to a child in the middle of a tantrum is like trying to reason with someone who’s having a panic attack. They are physically & mentally incapable of listening to what you’re saying. Focus on helping them calm down. Once calm, you can initiate a conversation about what happened & what you need of them.
References: Siegal & Payne Bryson 2012; Nandi & Luxon 2008