Does this sound familiar? You find a shoe, toy or other object belonging to one of your kids. You call their name and ask them to get said object and put it away. “OK, Mom!” is the response. You move forward with your day because there is just so much that needs your attention. Five minutes later the object is still there. You call out again, and again get an, “OK” response from the child. Ten minutes later the object is still there. This is just life with kids, right? Well, it turns out that better results are possible.
This was my life too, though sometimes there was even a lack of verbal response from the kids. My frustration would continue to grow. Eventually the child would respond to my request, once a consequence was given. It was a lose-lose situation.
Trial and Error
I tried many strategies to get the children to listen: I spoke quietly so they would really have to focus on listening. I spoke loudly (sometimes I even yelled a bit). I gave out consequences. They all worked a little bit, some of the time.
I was becoming frustrated and I suspected my kids were less than happy about the situation too. Then, I stumbled upon something that actually worked. All of my other attempts seemed to work at the beginning too, so it took me a few weeks to realize that this actually does work in almost every situation.
Related Post: One Simple Trick That Stops Tattling
The Trick to Get Kids to Listen
So what does it take? Each time I had something important to tell one of the kids, I got the child’s attention and asked them to look me in the eyes. Then I would make my request. And they would respond to it, almost every time. For the few times there was a lack of response, I immediately got their attention and asked them to look me in the eyes again. I would then repeat my previous request and it would always get done that second time.
**Pro Parenting Tip: Get down to their level. (I often have to kneel to be eye to eye with the younger kids.) It shows them that you are giving them your full attention.**
Knowing how powerful this strategy is, I use it any time I really want the kids’ attention. I realize that doing this every time I speak will make it less effective, so I save it for when I feel myself becoming frustrated and want to stay calm. I also use it when I am talking to one of the kids about something important.
At this point, all I have to say is, “(Insert child’s name here), eyes.” All four children know that a serious conversation is about to happen. It could be about putting away a toy, doing homework now, or apologizing to a sibling. Once is all it takes. They know that when I use this strategy, I mean business.
One Other Tip
Consistency is key when using any strategy. My children know that it is time to listen when I ask them to look me in the eyes. They know that whatever comes next is important. This is because I have been incredibly consistent. I make sure they follow through with my request, every time. There is no wiggle room.
Related Post: Easy Toy Organization System Kids Can Use
The Best Part
My favorite part of using this strategy, other than its effectiveness, is that everything is done very calmly. Because there is some one on one attention happening as well, I often get a hug, smile, or some other token of affection from the child. This strategy has reduced yelling (on my part and the kids’) and has also reduced frustration all around. Important things are taken care of in a timely manner. The frustrating former situations described above are now win-win situations. Everyone is happy!
What are your top tips to get kids to listen?
20 thoughts on “This One Trick Will Get Kids to Listen”
Ooooh I need this! We always ask for things to be done over and over. Thanks for sharing your wisdom!
You’re welcome Sunni! I hope it works well for you!
thanks for sharing this article
You’re welcome Kelly. I hope you found it useful!
I completely agree with this! I have always got down to his level and looked him in the eyes when I was serious about something but the rare times I haven’t, I noticed he wouldn’t respond as well as he did the other way. For example if his back is turned away from me and I am telling him to clean up his toys or something of that nature, he will pretend to ignore me. But if i tell him to turn around and look at me he will understand that I’m serious and will ALMOST always listen. He is a toddler after all. I also find if you get down to their level and hold their hands in front of you they’ll listen better. At least mine does!
Sigoni, what you describe sounds so much like my kids!
I definitely need to try this! I get so frustrated at times when I have to constantly repeat myself.
Heather, I felt the same way. I hope it works well for you!
Absolutely love the getting down on their level part! This can really make a world of difference!
Yes, it can be surprising how much this helps!
Why is it so hard to remember to get their attention before making a request?! I think I struggle with it more than I realize. It seems like such an easy, obvious thing but I think it’s our missing piece to the more calm, less frustrating environment you describe. I’ve found that the most helpful tip for transitioning in our house is to count down…. sometimes from 10, other times from 5 or even 2. It really helps our 3 year old understand when it’s time to be finished with something..
That is a great tip Shanna!
Oh, this is good! I will try this – pinning it! 🙂
Thank you Jordan! I hope it is effective for you!
We did this with our children starting when they were very young. When you ask them to look you in the eye they know it is important. Be aware they will start to ask you to look them in the eye when they want to talk to you.
Candy, I haven’t experienced that yet. I look forward to it! That is so cute!!!
This is a great tip! I have found that making eye contact and getting on their level can be very effective ways to interact with little ones.
Thank you. Being at their level helps a lot!
Thanks for the tip! I will be sure to keep this in mind. Pinned!
I am so glad you found it helpful Kalyn!