12 Easy ways to get kids listen to you (without losing your cool)

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Written By Olivia Miller

Author at Montessori Expert.

You know the feeling.

You ask your little one to pick up their toys, and you get the blank stare treatment.

You repeat yourself, add a “please,” maybe even a stern look, but still – nothing.

This isn’t a scene from a science fiction movie where your kid has mysteriously lost their hearing.

It’s a common parenting experience.

I’m sharing in this article 12 practical tips to turn those daily struggles into smoother sailing, so you can reclaim your sanity (and maybe even enjoy a cup of coffee in peace!).

But first, let’s see the reasons why kids don’t listen.

Why Don’t Kids Listen?

  • Distracted World: Kids are bombarded with stimuli – screens, toys, games. It’s easy for your voice to get lost in the noise.
  • Not in the Moment: They’re engrossed in playing or daydreaming. They might not have fully processed what you said.
  • Feeling Overwhelmed: Maybe you’ve been nagging all day. They shut down to avoid another lecture.
  • Don’t Understand Why: Especially with younger kids, they might not grasp the importance of what you’re asking. you can read more about why kids don’t listen here.

Easy ways to get kids listen to you

Here are 12 ways to get your kids listening, without resorting to yelling or nagging:

1. Get Eye Level and Make a Connection

a person talking to a child on a bed

Forget yelling orders from across the room. Get down on their level, make eye contact, and offer a gentle knee pat or a warm smile.

This simple physical connection shows your child you’re present, ready to talk, and genuinely interested in what they have to say.

2. “I” Statements

Explain How You Feel, Not Point Fingers. Instead of accusatory shouts like “You always leave your toys everywhere!”,

Try reframing it as “I feel frustrated when the toys are left out because it makes it hard to walk around.”

“I” statements help your child understand the impact of their actions without feeling attacked. They’re more likely to cooperate when they know their behavior is causing you stress.

3. Empower with Choices and Foster a Sense of Control

an mother and daughter looking at clothes on a rack
an mother and daughter looking at clothes on a rack

Instead of giving ultimatums, offer two choices that achieve the same outcome. 

“Would you like to clean your room now or after we finish reading your favorite story?” 

This gives your child a sense of control and makes them more likely to cooperate. They feel like they have a say in what happens, and cleaning becomes less of a chore and more of a joint decision.

4. Break Down Big Tasks into Manageable Steps

A messy room can feel overwhelming for a little one. Instead of the daunting command of “clean your room,” break it down into smaller, more manageable tasks.

Say something like, “Let’s put away all the blocks first, then we can move on to the cars.”

This makes the cleaning process seem less like an Everest-sized climb and more like a series of achievable steps.

5. Give Clear and Simple Instructions

Especially for younger children, avoid bombarding them with a long list of instructions. Keep it clear, concise, and delivered one step at a time.

Instead of saying, “Go brush your teeth, put on your pajamas, and then come downstairs for a story,”

Try breaking it down: “First, let’s go brush your teeth. Then, you can pick out your favorite pajamas, and after that, we’ll snuggle downstairs for a story.”

This makes it easier for them to process and follow your requests.

6. Catch Them Being Good and Celebrate the Wins

a person and child sitting on the ground in front of flowers

Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool.  Instead of only focusing on what they’re doing wrong, acknowledge and celebrate the good stuff!

A simple “Wow, I see you picked up your clothes without me asking! You’re such a helper!” goes a long way. Positive attention motivates them to continue making good choices.

7. Get Silly and Make Listening Fun!

A little laughter goes a long way in disarming a tense situation.

Sometimes, a goofy voice or a tickle monster can break the tension and make instructions more fun.

Maybe sing a silly song about picking up toys or turn cleaning time into a race. When chores become a game, everyone wins!

8. Actively Listen and Show You Care About Their World

a mother and her daughter sitting on a couch talking to each other
a mother and her daughter sitting on a couch talking to each other

When your child is talking to you, put down distractions and truly listen!

Make eye contact, nod along, and ask clarifying questions to show them you care about their thoughts and feelings.

This will not only encourage them to open up to you but also teach them the importance of active listening – a valuable skill that will benefit them throughout their lives.

9. Set Expectations

a woman is talking to a boy sitting on a chair
a woman is talking to a boy sitting on a chair

Before heading out to the park, the grocery store, or any potentially overwhelming situation, have a conversation about appropriate behavior. 

Talk about what you expect and what the consequences might be if those expectations aren’t met.

For example, at the park, you could say, “The park is a fun place to play, but remember, we need to use kind words and keep our hands and feet to ourselves. If you start to get too rough, we might have to take a break and come home.”

Setting clear expectations can help prevent meltdowns and foster a more enjoyable outing for everyone.

10. “When/Then” Statements

These statements can be helpful in creating a positive association with desired behaviors.

For instance, “When you finish your homework, then we can watch a movie together.”

This clarifies expectations and provides a clear incentive for completing the task.

11. Pick Your Battles

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Focus on the most important rules and safety issues.

Is it really worth a fight if they insist on wearing mismatched socks?

Choose your battles wisely and save your energy for the things that truly matter.

12. Quality Time

is gentle parenting effective featured image

Schedule dedicated one-on-one time with your child for connection and fun.

This could be anything from reading a book together to building a pillow fort.  

During this dedicated time, put away distractions and focus on simply enjoying each other’s company.

This strengthens your bond and creates a foundation of trust, making communication in other areas flow more smoothly.

ways to get kids listen to you image use for pinterest
ways to get kids listen to you image use for pinterest

Bonus Tip: Take Care of Yourself – A Happy Mama Makes a Happy Home

A stressed-out mama can’t be a patient mama. Make time for self-care, even if it’s just a few stolen moments each day.

Take a relaxing bath, read a book, or chat with a friend. The more you take care of yourself, the better equipped you’ll be to handle challenging situations with your kids.

A happy and healthy you means a happier and more patient approach to parenting, and that benefits everyone in your home.

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