Wondering how to make kids listen without yelling?
Then let me guess… your kids:
- zone out when you talk
- say no to everything you ask
- argue over everything you say
If you said yes to any (or all) of the above, I have some powerful and fast working tips for you to try. Most of these tips revolve around saying the right things in the right way. How easy is that?
Combine a few together and use them the next time you’re wondering how to make kids listen to you and to follow your instructions.
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1. Whisper For Instant Attention
Children get used to our regular thunderous commanding tones. So bring a twist into that and whisper the next time you want to say something.
When kids can’t hear what you are saying but the sound whisper sounds pique their curiosity, they will turn to look at you once at least.
Also, you can use this technique when your child starts arguing about doing the work they are supposed to do. The louder he gets, the slower you go. Because in order to understand your response to their reasoning, they will have to tune into what it is that you are saying, and eventually slow down their own pitch too.
2. Give Directions Only Once To Avoid Getting Repeatedly Ignored
When we keep repeating ourselves, we are training our child that they have many chances before it’s finally time to answer and we don’t really mean it until it’s the fourth time.
Especially if you have made the same mistake as most of us do, repeating something multiple times before we give the final thundering ultimatum.
After learning about giving directions only once, I realized what a fool I made myself look like by repeatedly saying the same things.
Now I am deliberate about giving my instruction only once and I keep standing there looking intently at my son till he leaves what he was doing and gets up to follow through.
Sometimes I also mention the consequences.
For example, I would say, “Musa, it’s time to pick up your toys. Whatever is left on the floor after x minutes will get locked in the store.”
3. Use Short Simple Sentences For Better Comprehension
Little minds can easily get overwhelmed with multiple commands, long lectures, and complex sentences.
Use as few and simple words as possible when giving instructions. When they understand better, they are more likely to follow through.
You will find tons of examples of short and simple phrases for various situations in the Helpful Phrases Book.
4. Work With Their Limited Awareness
Research shows that when a child is busy playing or doing an activity, they are not very aware of their surroundings. This is known in the world of child development as ‘limited peripheral awareness’.
So get down to their level, make eye contact, and make sure you have their attention before you give your instructions.
5. Acknowledge And Validate To Win Their Heart
I read a beautiful quote in my go-to parenting books that says,
“What every young child would tell us, if they could, is to please hold onto them, not take their actions personally, and to love them despite their immaturity.”Dr. Deborah MacNamara
Whenever I read it, my tense shoulders go down and I feel a sense of calm understanding and stewardship towards my son as his mother and guide.
Feeling understood trumps everything else in a child’s life. And this doesn’t have to be hard.
You can make your child feel understood by matter-of-factly describing whatever it is that your child is feeling or doing at that moment.
This is hard. You don’t want to share your toys with your baby sister. You wish she would leave the toy room.
This method works so fast your child’s emotional tank will fill to the brim within minutes but remember,
No questions, no judgments or teaching. Just observations.
The Helpful Phrases Book also includes sample phrases for 15 different kinds of situations.
Also, make sure to repeat this method for a couple of minutes several times throughout the day.
All you need is a few minutes and an empathetic heart but the results will be way better.
6. Make It Fun
I used to tell my son to do his tasks in a very firm thunderous tone until I realised that is so unnecessary. It comes from the mindset that he is going to refuse me so I need to be firm.
But if we use our creativity, there are so many fun ways like using puppets or creating sons to get children to do something. I constantly remind myself that the feelings are contagious.
If you want your kids to be happy as they go about with their day, model it.
7. Support The Transition
Just like us, when kids are in the middle of something, it is very irritating for them to pull away from it.
I have learned to always let my son know what is about to happen shortly ahead of time.
For example, I tell him you can play for ten more minutes and then we will go to the bathroom to brush your teeth.
I can bet if I suddenly asked him to stop playing because he has to brush his teeth, he won’t cooperate.
8. Step into their world
Wondering how to get a child to listen and follow directions when all they want to do is play play and play?
I know, we, on the other hand, don’t really like playing with toys anymore, especially when we have so much to do on our list.
But hear me out, friend.
All kids love and should love playing. This right here is their way of learning life skills, cooperation, focus, and creativity.
Playing with your child doesn’t have to be a long and a formal session. Just set 10 minutes/day. And if you promise to do it for 5 days in a row, I can also promise that you will see a remarkable change in their listening and cooperation abilities.
9. Keep The Magic Ratio 5:1
As explained in the Helpful Phrases Book, the concept of the magic ratio is based on the ideas of Dr. Gottman’s theory of balance. This theory says that for every one negative interaction, there have to be five positive interactions to keep the relationship between parents and kids healthy.
(This also gives me a clue why they are happier to see their dad than me. Because he is around for a shorter while and the only interactions they have are positive while all the messy work is our job.
But now we do know the magic ratio for keeping relationships with kids healthy! winks)
10. Reduce Commands With Routines
Routines help us limit the number of times we give them commands in a day. As your child continues to do a task daily around the same time in the same place, over time they get used to and need lesser directions from us.
So stick with routines and rhythms until they become so automatic you really don’t need to go through power struggles everyday.
I see this power of a routine so cleaarly when I tell my son he has to brush his teeth, he knows he needs to go to the bathroom because over the years that is what we have always done.
But when I tell him that he needs to finish his snack, he doesn’t know where to go, on the couch? on the floor? at the table? This is simply my fault for letting him eat his snacks anywhere. Often newer places grab his attention more and he ends up neglecting his snack too.
11. Model Respectful Listening
How do you respond to your child when you’re busy on the phone or in the kitchen as they try to show you their new creative work.
Model the kind of behavior you expect from them if we want them to listen to us and behave well and respect us.
12. Find the ‘Yes’
When we tell our kids not to do something, they understand that, but then don’t really always know what to do instead. Instead of focusing on the do not’s, focus on what they can do, the behavior we are expecting from them
For example instead of saying don’t touch the cake, try saying keep your hands to yourself.
Positive phrases make it much easier to discipline a child and deal with their issues in a less charged atmosphere.
Keep the no, stop and can’ts for when you really really need it.
13. How To Make Kids Listen When You’re About To Lose Your Patience
We have all been there.
We all want to know just how to make kids listen without yelling or exploding.
But recently, I’ve started using this method.
I immediately change my lens. I try to enter his rapidly pounding heart and empathize with how helpless, fearful, and confused my sweet boy must be feeling.
I remind myself that he is still building his logic. All he has working for himself is his emotions. I need to use them to steer him in the right way.
That there is always a better way of dealing with behaviors.
And my bubbling anger immediately calms down.
This is not how I always react but I’m learning.
Putting quotes around the house and regularly reminding myself that his happiness and well-being is what I want most, is helping too.
This change in my behavior immediately puts his own guards down too.
Want More Tips On How To Make Kids Listen?
If you want to use helpful phrases that actually get you heard without repeating, yelling, and giving up, then below is a great book I use in my own daily life and would strongly recommend you read too.
I want all my friends, my sister, and the special young moms I know to read it at least once.
The author‘s wisdom behind the phrases in this book will change your child’s relationship with you altogether.
Do YOU know any secret tips on how to get kids to listen without yelling or punishing?
Share in the comments below and let’s help one another out.