Helping Kids Listen

10 Nov 2015

“My kids never listen to me!”

“I have to repeat myself 10 times before my son will help me!”

“I don’t really like it when my daughter helps out. It makes more work for me…”

This is a common problem that parents have. Children often don’t come when they are called and they are often not eager to help out. Considering all the things that we need our children to do during the day—get out of bed, get dressed, eat breakfast, do homework, share their toys, brush their teeth, get to bad—this makes our lives pretty difficult.

There are some things that we can do to make our lives easier and help our kids listen to us.

  1. Predictability is the Name of the Game:

Now that we know that kids are not predisposed to listening to us, parents can work on setting themselves up for success. Children like routines and predictability and it’s helpful if we stick to a schedule. This makes it easier for kids to listen, because they know what to expect. We don’t need to follow a schedule with army precision. However, a child will comply more readily when he knows that every night he knows he must eat dinner at a certain then takes a bath, gets into pajamas and read two books before bed.

  1. Environment Counts:

The world is made for adults and children can have issues reaching high shelves or even climbing onto a chair. Small fingers and not-yet-fully-developed gross and fine motor skills can make simple tasks, like hanging up a coat or pouring milk, tricky and frustrating. It is important to make our homes child-friendly. For example, coat hooks that are on their level, toy bins for easy clean-up and unbreakable dishes. This will make it easier for children to listen and cooperate.

  1. What Not to Do:

Parents are often so frustrated that their children are not listening that they blame, lecture and even bribe. Kids dislike these tactics. They feel hurt, angry, frustrated and unmotivated.


  1. What to do:

According to the book, “How To Talk So Kids Will Listen” by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, the best way to engage your child’s cooperation is to use the following communication skills:

Giving information: “The coat belongs on the hook..”

Describing the problem: “Coats get dirty when they are left on the floor…”

Giving choices: “Do you want to hang the coat on the hook in here or hang it in the closet in your room?

Say it with a word: “The coat!”

Talking about your feelings: “I get frustrated when coats are not taken care of!”

Writing a note: “This coat wants to be put away now!”


These skills are neutral, non-confrontational and respectful ways to teach kids to listen. When we use the above techniques we foster the feeling within our children, that they can be responsible, capable and competent. This is the best way to help them want to listen.


The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.