My Child Won't Listen

My Child Won't Listen

What can you do when your child won’t listen? You’ve tried everything. You explain. You repeat, sometimes over and over. You demonstrate. You help. You give choices. Maybe you even negotiate, with promises of something the child desires, if only what you’re asking the child to do is completed soon.

Some of the ideas you are trying may work some of the time. And some of them are good ideas, such as offering choices. Do you want to brush your teeth with the red toothbrush or the green one today?

If your child has difficulty following simple directions, a technique that can be very effective is for you to follow through. What does this mean? When you give a direction, be prepared to help your child actually follow the direction, now. Often families have a rule of three. A parent or other caregiver will let the child know that from now on, there will only be three reminders. Many children will comply on the second or third reminder, because the importance of compliance has been brought to their attention. If the child does not comply, then you must move to action. This might mean helping your child pick up toys, perhaps giving the child one to put in the box and then putting one in yourself. Or it might mean hand over hand tooth brushing. For an older child, it might mean looking at the child until they do the task. It’s important not to get physical but to stay calm and focused on a positive outcome. Then be sure to praise the task completion, no matter how hard you had to work to help the child get it done.

Another important point to remember is that children feel most secure when adults are in charge. When an adult follows through, the child sees the adult as competent and someone who cares about them. An adult who follows through can be counted on!

So the bottom line is – if you say it, do it. If this does not work, there may be other factors contributing to the problem. Don’t be afraid to talk to your pediatrician, read a parenting book or blog, ask friends with children, or seek professional help. No child listens all the time. Most children listen most of the time.

Blog Disclaimer:  Please be aware that this blog contains general information. It is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended as treatment or a recommendation or prescription for a particular child. If you have questions about your child, please talk to your pediatrician or seek other professional services.