Getting Your Child to Listen to You

“If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times.”

Sound familiar?

You’re not the only parent who has to repeat himself or herself more than once when speaking to their child. We’ve all been there, and we know that getting your child to listen to you is easier said than done.

You can get your child to listen to you the first time with techniques that help your child to hear you every time. Here’s how:

Get their attention first

Kids are busy exploring, thinking, and moving. They aren’t ignoring you; they haven’t noticed that you are speaking to them. If you talk at your child while he’s engaged in something else, his brain may not recognize that he needs to stop what he’s doing and listen to you instead.


  • Move closer to your child and position yourself at his height.
  • A light touch on the arm or shoulder will help to create a connection and let him know you are there.
  • Enter his world by coming on what he is doing.
  • For example, say, “I like the paint colors you are using. They are bright and feel happy.”
  • When he looks at you, make your statement, “Lunch is ready; come eat” or “Are you ready to go to the store with me?”

Offer choices

Does it matter if your child wears a green shirt or a blue one, or are you just trying to get her dressed before going outside?

By offering a choice, your child gets to be a part of the decision-making process. She’ll be more agreeable because she got to choose on her own.

Giving choices works better than coercion. Rather argue about putting on a coat before going outside in chilly weather, let your child decide if he’d rather stay inside while everyone else is outside playing — or would he like to put on his coat and join them?


  • Set the scene by telling what is about to happen.
  • Give your child a choice of two options (not more)
  • Establish choices you can live with
  • Be okay with the decision

Give a rationale

Kids like knowing why.

By providing a rationale for your children, you are setting up a scenario they understand. As a result, they’ll be more likely to listen to you and follow your directives. For example, you can tell your child, “When you get your homework done first, you will have more time for playing a computer game.”


  • State what you want your child to do
  • Tell why it’s important
  • Show the cause and effect

You can get your child to listen to you with just a few well-practiced strategies. As a result, you’ll both be happier.



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