Write me: rebecca@positive-parents.org

Not listening is one of the top 5 behaviors that cause parents to lose their cool.

Head on over to Creative Child and read what I wrote for them about this topic.

To love courageously when your child doesn’t listen:

1. Use a firm and respectful tone at a conversational distance. Barking commands from across the room, or across the house, is much less effective than walking over, getting their attention by engaging eye contact, and then speaking. 

2. Use “I want” statements rather than “will you’ statements. “Will you pick up your toys now” leaves an option for “no.” It’s a question, not a request. “I want you to pick up your toys now” says that this is not negotiable. 

3. Ask once then take action. Few things are more annoying than asking a child to do something several times and not getting a response. So, don’t ask them several times. State your request in a kind and respectful tone once, make it short and clear, and ensure you have eye contact or at least listening ears by asking her if she heard what you requested. If she doesn’t do what you told her to do, then take action. This means if you told her to put her clothes away, go over to her, make eye contact, and say, “It’s time to put your clothes away.” Guide her toward the laundry pile and ensure she gets it done before you leave her room. Yes, I know this takes a lot of effort, and I realize you want her to do it the first time without you having to monitor her, but which is more effective? If you ask once then act, she will very soon learn that you expect her to listen the first time. If it continues to be a problem, go back to the first thing , the relationship. If you keep asking to the point that you lose your cool and yell, then she begins to understand she doesn’t really have to do anything until you start screaming. So, by putting a little more effort in at the beginning, you will save yourself a lot of frustrating moments in the future. 

If you find yourself in a situation this month where your child just isn’t listening to you, practice patience first, then see what a difference it makes to use the 3 suggestions above. 

Join me tomorrow for “Loving Courageously Through Dawdling.”


Read the post that inspired the Love Courageously challenge.

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  • Holly Scudero Posted 18 February 2015 8:54

    Good thoughts! I know it drives me nuts when my 3-year-old doesn't listen, but I'm going to try switching from asking to "I want you to." That makes so much sense.

  • lifewithtwincesses Posted 27 May 2015 15:55

    I am having such a difficult time with my twins. I feel I am either to soft or to harsh. They sometimes don't listen and this makes me feel like a failure as a mother. I am a first time mother to 2 year old twins. When I try to talk to one the other thinks it's her job to either say naughty mama or repeat what I say to her sister. I will definitely be trying these.

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