20 Ways to Get Your Kids’ Attention When They’re Not Listening

not listening

As parents, we all know the struggle that it is to just simply get the kids to listen! Whether it’s barking orders across the house, or calmly trying to communicate your point, sometimes we just can’t win.

We asked you, our For Every Mom community, for your input on the best ways to get through to your child when they don’t listen, and boy did you guys deliver!

Here are 20 Ways to Get Your Kids’ Attention When They’re Not Listening

1. Count

Counting was the one tactic that got the most attention with the expert moms across our For Every Mom community. Some of you swear by it, and some of you have never found any luck with it.

“When she was little I counted to 10…not only to give her time to turn things around, but also to help her learn to count. As she has gotten older I’ve shortened it to 5…then started counting backward from 5. I also have the mantra ‘slow down, focus and obey’ To get her to think before she acts.”

2. Give them a heads up

“I think giving kids a fair warning ahead of time before you expect them to do something. Like, on playdates, ‘We are going to leave in 15 minutes’ helps them prepare, instead of just springing, “It’s time to leave!” on them in the moment.”

There’s tends to be a struggle if you don’t give them a heads up, so this method can make things easier on everyone.

Sometimes I’ll preface my point with, “I’m going to say something really important so I need you to look at me and focus.”

3. Communicate the consequence of not listening upfront

“I’ll ask my 3-year-old, ‘Do you want to sit on the chair for a while?'” By communicating the consequences of not listening upfront, you essentially give them two choices to make.

“We try not to use food or exercise as a punishment or reward. BUT, doing something physical WITH them when they are stressed, hyper, sad, or angry can be the key to quality listening time between the two of you.”

4. Ensure you have their attention, first

“Say their name and pause, wait until you get their attention, then follow through right away (even if that means physically helping them).”

5. Have them repeat what you told them

“We have learned to have our kids repeat back what we told them. This helps with their communication and our stress level too, especially when big emotions are involved.”

6. Start by removing the distraction

not listening

“If I ask my kids first to turn off the TV, tablet, computer, etc., I’m able to ensure that I have their attention before I start communicating my thought. If I ask them to do something WHILE they’re watching TV or playing on their tablet, they’re far less likely to listen to what I have to say.”

Remove the distraction first, so that you’re not competing with what already has their attention.

7. Communicate their body language to them

“Something I say often is, ‘Your actions are telling me that __(fill in the blank)___.’ So if they are not listening, you might say, ‘Your actions are telling me that you’d like to sit down and take a break (or sit in time out, go to your room, etc.) before playing outside (playing video games, or whatever they would rather be doing).’

Another example might be, ‘Your actions are telling me that you’re too tired to (do the fun xyz) today. If you can show me that you’re ready to be a good listener, we can still do xyz.'”

8. Positive reinforcement goes a long way

“I always try to get my son to look into my eyes, and then I speak succinctly and to the point so I don’t lose what little focus he has. We’ve learned that he wants to behave well because we let him know how proud it makes us, and we use that to remind him that behaving well makes our hearts happy and proud. When he is not listening, we remind him of that, which helps him remember his motivation to behave.”

9. Limit the opportunity for further distraction by limiting their choices

“My daughter will fight with me every day and take 20 years to pick out an outfit. So before she even goes to her closet I pull out two outfits and lay them out and give her a choice. I do the same thing with snacks and games and anything they want to do. They have the power to choose, but not the opportunity to choose from too many things.”

10. Get on their level

not listening

“Getting down on their level and making eye contact while speaking calmly always works. I’ll say, ‘Mommy listens when you speak so I will need you to do the same for me.'”

11. Affirm your child, don’t tear them down

We all need words of affirmation, kids included.

“We choose to celebrate [our son] when he does listen. Nothing extravagant. We just say ‘Thank you for listening. You’re doing so good.’ He loves words of affirmation.”

12. Know your child’s love language and use it accordingly

It’s important to know and understand your child’s love language, to know the best ways they will receive you.

“For example, my one daughter is a physical touch kind of girl. So if I really need her to listen to me, I know I can scoop her up into a cuddle or a hug and communicate to her where she feels the most loved. My son needs quality time to feel the most loved. So I know that if I get him one on one, I’ll have a better shot of him listening to the things I have to communicate.”

Learn more about love languages here.


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Bri Lamm
Bri Lamm is the Editor of ForEveryMom.com! An outgoing introvert with a heart that beats for adventure, she lives to serve the Lord, experience the world, and eat macaroni and cheese all while capturing life’s greatest moments on one of her favorite cameras. Follow her on Facebook!