Kids often seem less interested in listening to what they are being told especially if they are pre-occupied with activities such as playing games or socializing with other children. Even toddlers and older children lead busy lives as they are in a stage where they are exploring things. Ideally, children have other priorities as opposed to listening to others especially if what you are saying is not interesting to their ears. When your child seems not to listen, here are a few tips on how teach them how to do so. (See other parenting advice)
1. Capture their attention
The easiest way to teach your child to listen is by capturing their attention first. This allows you to connect with the child and make him/her attentive to what you are saying, especially if you are saying something important. When capturing your child’s attention, move closer to him and make a physical contact such as touching his shoulders gently. If the child is pre-occupied by something that he is doing like playing with toys, you can join him as a way of showing respect for what he is doing.
2. Avoid repeating yourself
If you address your child at first and he/she does not feel interested in whatever you are saying, do not repeat yourself or shout. This is because he/she is most likely ignoring you since you have not captured their attention. When such is the case, strategize on how you will capture the child’s attention and think of how you will make them interested in whatever you want to say. However, if your child seems to have missed something you said or didn’t understand well, you can repeat yourself as a way of clarifying your statement.
3. Use few words
Children are barely able to process long statements. They usually find it daunting to keep up with a long statement especially if what you are saying is not interesting to their ears. Most parents lose their children’s attention when they use many words as though they were talking to adults. When giving instructions, use few words so that the child can comprehend and understand what you are saying.
4. Understand the child’s point of view
At times, it is important to understand how your child feels when you are talking to them and they seem pre-occupied with other issues that are of great importance to them. For instance, if you were doing something that you really love and someone ordered you to do something else that you are not interested in, how would you feel? Put yourself in your child’s shoes and understand how they feel when you are disrupting them while they are doing something that is of importance to them. When teaching your child to listen, it is important to understand that they do not necessarily have to be interested in your priorities. What is necessary of them is to listen to what you are saying and accommodate your needs.
5. Engage cooperation
Children tend to be quite resistive to orders and will ignore you when you appear to give them orders. This is why you need to be collected and use a warm tone when you are talking to your child. It is advisable to seek your child’s cooperation when talking to him/her particularly when you are discussing a serious matter. When talking to your child, consider giving choices so that they feel that they have freedom of choice. Your choice of words is very important when talking to your child as you need him/her to listen and agree to what you are saying without any resistance whatsoever.
6. Stay calm
When teaching your child to listen, it is necessary that you remain calm and cool especially when they do not seem to be listening to what you are saying. When you are upset, your child will feel threatened and will go into flight. As a counter measure, they will appear to be less interested in what you are saying and your message will become less effective. When you feel agitated by your child’s actions, it is advisable to talk a short walk and breathe fresh air to calm down and relax.
7. Avoid nagging your child
Most parents tend to nag their children rather than communicate with them. Nagging turns children completely off and they tend not to listen to what you are saying irrespective of how important the message is. Try as much as possible to talk to your child affirmatively while stressing your point in a way such that he/she does not think you are nagging. At times, the failure of your child to listen to you is necessitated by the fact that you choose the wrong time to talk to them. For example, your child will barely listen to you if you talk to him/her when they are enjoying their favorite video game.
8. Listen to your child
If you want your child to listen to you, you also need to listen to them too. When your child is telling you something that they enjoyed while at school or when watching their favorite program, be attentive and listen to all the details clearly. If possible, you can ask a few questions so that you get involved in the conversation and be able to have a constructive conversation with your child. When your child gets used to talking to you, he /she will definitely listen to what you are saying whenever you talk to them.
9. Let your child know the routine to follow
If you want to collide and argue less with your child when talking to them, let them know of the routine that they should follow. This makes it possible for your child to listen to you as they know what they are supposed to do next without you having to remind them. For example, if your child knows that he/she is supposed to sleep at eight, they will effectively listen to you when you tell them to sleep at eight.
10. Choose your message correctly
If your child has a habit of ignoring you when you are talking to him/her, you should ensure that you choose your message correctly such that there is little or no ignorance from your child. If you want your child to do something essential, use an affirmative language does not give them a choice of ignoring or assuming what you are saying to them.
You should teach your child to effectively listen from a young age so that they are able to hold constructive conversations and dialogues with other people. You also need to teach your child how to engage with other people; children and adults alike by interacting with them on a friendly basis through conversations and dialogue.