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Do Your Kids Listen to You?


by Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC

There are times when every parent feels as if they might as well be talking to a block of wood. As with many other things, the harder you try to get your kids to listen, the more resistance you get. Here are ten things to consider when you want to get a message across:

  1. Make sure your relationship is solid. If your kids don't like you, they're a lot less likely to listen to you.
  2. Remember that actions speak louder than words. If your kids know that what you say won't be backed up with action, they'll more easily tune you out. Having natural consequences for not listening (toys disappear if kids don't listen and they're not picked up)has a way of having kids pay better attention.
  3. Talk about listening to them. Make it a point to occasionally discuss the importance of listening when your kids are receptive. Talk about how nice it feels when someone else listens to you completely and what a great quality this is.
  4. Have a sense of timing when you talk to your kids. Don't expect them to listen well when they're in the middle of something, when they're extremely tired, or when they're hungry. Find a time when they're fairly relaxed and you have their full attention.
  5. Model great listening yourself. Give them your absolute attention when they speak to you and try to reflect back what you heard. This shows them how focused you were on what they were saying.
  6. Each child listens in a unique way, get to know their preferred style. Your child may be a kinesthetic learner who listens and understands by writing something down or by walking through something. Find the way to reach your child in the way that works best.
  7. Avoid lectures. Many parents have a lecturing style that they're unaware of. Their kids are very aware of this style, however, and tune them out. Speak in a casual and pleasant tone that you would use when talking with a friend.
  8. Limit their TV watching. Kids who watch a lot of TV tend to be more easily distracted and have a more difficult time listening. This may also help to improve your relationship when you spend more time with your kids!
  9. Talk to your kids in a non-judgmental way. The more they feel judged by you, the more shame they'll feel and the less they'll hear. See your kids as great and they'll listen as though they are!
  10. Be genuinely interested in your children's lives. Ask them curious questions about what's they're experiencing. When your kids know that you have a real interest in their life, they're more likely to look forward to what you have to say.

Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC, is the author of "25 Secrets of Emotionally Intelligent Fathers"
For more great tips and action steps for fathers, sign up for his FREE bi-weekly newsletter, "Dads, Don't Fix Your Kids," at

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