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"How do I get them to listen to me?" Ring any bells?

Updated: Jan 26

Not being listened to can be one of the biggest triggers in life in general. Not feeling heard. Respected. In control.

Imagine being at work and people ignoring you. Perhaps you had it at school by some nasty bullies - pretending you didn't exist (just me?). Maybe your parents weren't that interested in anything you had to say. Seen but not heard.

It brings up a lot of feelings doesn't it?

So here, right now I want you to move from the thoughts of ‘how can I make them…’, and start here; Why am I finding it so hard to not be heard? Why am I finding it SO enraging when my children don't listen? Aside from just needing your child to do something I mean. What is it also about?

I believe that being heard needs to go both ways (this might hit a nerve but hear me out).

How much do you listen to them?

To children, ‘feeling heard’ is often something that happens during play (I always say play is a child’s love language). When they tell you about something they find really interesting (but you have no interest in, idea about or time for), how much do you actually listen or respond?

I’m not saying this to shame anyone. I don’t sit around playing with my children all day listening to endless facts about Pokémon 🥺… but I also have some self reflection that when I don’t, and my children don’t listen… maybe that’s partly why.

We have to be self reflective and manage our expectations. Do I want to sit around listening to Pokemon facts all day? No. Does my child want to brush his teeth and go to bed? Also no. It's a matter of mutual respect and filling up one another's 'I hear you' cups.

There are also other factors involved of course with supporting children's listening skills:

❓Are you saying the word ‘No’ more than you need to? “I can really see that you want one more turn on the ride, but Mummy said one turn” followed by something they can do. Not using the actual word 'no' can help.

👂🏼Children listen in different ways. Just because they aren’t looking at you, it doesn’t mean they haven’t heard you.

🔢Giving a run down of 2-3 steps of what will happen next and little reminders is better than shouting ‘Right time to go! Put your shoes on!’.

🗣Asking children to repeat back or remind you what step is happening next, is one way of showing they have listened without you always being the authoritative ‘I’m telling you what to do’ person.

👀Young children respond brilliantly to visual prompts along with words. Signs (like makaton or BSL) or actual visual pictures. The images or signs add another dimension to the instruction or prompt being ‘heard’ and also make things more interactive.

Body language. Tone of voice. You don’t need eye contact to be heard but children are masters at reading tone & body language so keep that in mind when you’re talking!

Let me know if you’ve been struggling & if any of this has given you some ideas on what to try next. You can always contact me if you need further support.


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