Kids Not Listening? 7 Phrases to Try

One of the most common frustrations we hear from parents is my kids just don’t listen! Sometimes, kids are lost in their own flow. Sometimes, they’re distracted by their own inner voice. Other times, they’re listening to something or someone else. How do we get our kids attention without losing our cool? Try these 7 phrases…

Kids not listening? Try these 7 Phrases

1. “Do we have our ears turned on? I’m about to do something important.” 

It’s easy for kids to tune us out when so much of what we say may not pertain to them. So, when we suddenly include them in a conversation, they may hear us but are not listening to us. First, get their attention. Let them know this is a message for them. Try saying, “do we have our ears turned on?” Asking them a question gives them a way to get prepared and engaged, and stop what they are currently doing.

2. Bend down to eye level and speak calmly and slowly.

Have you ever been at a presentation or in a class and found your mind wandering? What happens when the speaker moves closer to you? You tune in. The same can work for our kids. Oftentimes a call to attention using loud and angry tones can trigger emotions they weren’t prepared for. By getting down to their level and using a calm voice, your child can listen more attentively and calmly. 

3. “Let’s see if game is put away by the time I uncover my eyes!” 

Play is the language of children. By turning things into a game, you get them engaged in a fun way! This example can move them away from the distraction and help them focus on the message or task you are trying to move them toward.

4. “I see that you’re busy playing right now, can I have your attention in two minutes?”

We all want to be shown respect, regardless of our age. What our kids are playing or doing may seem trivial to us, but to them, it is real and important. When we acknowledge and allow them to finish what they are doing and set an expectation to talk soon, it shows them respect. It also gives them time to get ready for the transition from playing to whatever it is you want to talk to them about.  

5. “Let’s see if you can repeat what I am telling you.”

Having your child repeat after you can be very fun, and it also helps ensure they are understanding you. Sometimes we may overestimate the number of steps our kids can remember. If we ask them, “get your shoes on, get your backpack, and wait by the door,” they may only remember one of those tasks. Having them repeat it back is a great way to know they understand the full message. 

6. “Jump up and down if you can hear me!”

Make it fun and get your child moving! This not only makes listening a game, but gets your child moving. Moving their bodies can help them transition away from what they were doing and can help increase attention to what you are saying. 

7. “Wow, it looks like you’re about to beat this level! Can I ask you something after?” 

Validating your child’s interests is important. By talking about what they are doing, you are showing interest and also respecting their time. Setting up an expectation that when they are done, you want them to listen, can be very helpful. 

The next time you find yourself wondering why your child won’t listen, try one of these phrases.  Giving your child tim and respect, and making sure you have their attention can make listening much easier for all. Ready to learn more ways to help your child become confident, courageous, and resilient? Check out our library of animated videos, printables, and resources at gozen.com/allprograms.

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