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

13. Don’t get angry

I know, it’s easier said than done, mamas. But yelling won’t make your kids’ ears work any better. If anything, it elevates the situation to an unhealthy level and teaches kids that screaming is the answer to getting your way. It’s only a matter of time before that approach backfires on you.

“Keep your cool and approach kids with a firm, but respectful tone.”

14. Eye contact is key

It’s impossible—even for adults—to fully listen if your attention isn’t fully on the person you’re listening to. That’s why eye contact is key. It’s a body language that tells the person speaking that you’re listening and vice versa.

“I have a 6 and 2-year-old, and with my first, we worked on making sure she responds verbally and with eye contact so we knew we were speaking to each other and expecting an outcome.”

15. Use the “First… and then…” method

“I use the ‘first & then’ method. An example would be if they want to watch TV but need to clean their room. We always word it as “Let’s clean our room first and then we will watch TV. Something about it works wonders for my kiddos.”

16. Find a quiet space

“I loved an article I read one time that explained when kiddos are throwing tantrums, or not listening, it isn’t because they want to be out of control, it’s just that they are experiencing a lot of emotions they don’t know what to do with. So even now with my little one, when he is really upset, I hold him close, play soft calming music, and when we can, I sit with him in his room with the lights dimmed to remove some of the sensory overload, and give him a chance to process his emotions.”

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not listening

“I have found that as mine have gotten older, car rides are the best for hashing out things we need to discuss and that way we’re not looking eye to eye necessarily but I have a captive audience and they seem more at ease to share their heart and what’s on in their mind. It’s also a great place to pray with them.”

17. Whisper

“They usually didn’t listen if I talked, repeated myself or yelled. But if I whispered….always worked.”

18. Let them be heard

“I try to listen. I think a lot of times we as parents are doing most of the talking trying to get our children to listen to us when we aren’t doing the listening that we should try to do.

Children have a lot on their minds, as do we. They are learning, and it is our job to teach them. I find that too often, trying to get my children to listen to me when I am speaking fails, but when I start to listen to them, things go much more smoothly.

I do a handful of things like getting on their level, trying to have eye contact and staying calm as well as many other things to try to get them to listen to me but taking a moment to listen to them and finding out what is on their little hearts and minds is important.

It helps to see from their perspective allowing me to come up with little ways to explain things easier for them to understand about the particular situation and in the end, we both got to listen to each other.”

19. Use a soft touch to communicate

Rather than yelling or getting frustrated, use a soft touch to redirect their focus.

“Touch them on the shoulder and you’ll immediately have their attention. Works on adults too!”

“I remember having an issue with the kids always interrupting when we were talking to others, so one tactic we used A LOT— which has even spilled over to today sometimes — is if they have something to tell you, they put their hand on your hip or side but don’t say a word. Then you put your hand over theirs, letting them know you know they want to speak. Then when you find a pause in the adult conversation you can then turn to them to talk.”

20. Start Young

“From the time our kids could communicate to us what ‘they’ wanted. We guided them towards what it was we wanted them to do. I would take them by the hand, as I talked about what I wanted them to hear. Crying and fussing happened on occasion, but I still kept them focused on my talk. I believe because I started this early, I had very little trouble getting them to listen as they got older. This way of training them to listen to us, taught them to respect our authority as their parents, as well as the authority of other adults we had watching over them.”

The biggest thing we heard from you expert moms is that it’s all trial and error when your kids are not listening. Every child is different, which means every child is going to listen and respond differently.

If you struggle with your kids not listening, sister, know that you are NOT alone. The privilege of raising humans is a gloriously heavy one, and you are doing just fine. Turn to God, and seek wisdom in knowing exactly what your child needs.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5)


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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!