5 Tips on How to Get Kids to Listen and Pay Attention

Kids are pretty darned cute, right? They’re also often really stubborn. And the worst thing about it is that they don’t come with an instruction manual on how to get them to listen! But luckily for you, I’ve got some ideas up my sleeve. 

So let’s take a look at what makes kids tick and see what we can do to make things go more smoothly when trying to get them to listen…

Start by Being a Good Listener.

start by being a good listener.

If you want your kids to listen to you and your partner, you will have to show them how. It’s unfair that they have to listen to you, and you don’t want to listen to them. What you have is a family built on trust, faith, communication, and pixie dust. Acting like a prison warden or an untouchable CEO is not the way to raise a family. We, as parents, should work on our listening skills if we expect our children to listen.

Listen Attentively and Make Eye Contact with The Child Talking.

Actually, listening to them is the first step in understanding them. And showing them that you are listening intently to what they are telling you would earn you their ear later on. If we show the kids that we are barely listening to them, they will assume that it’s okay not to listen. Keep in mind that behavior issues are usually learned by observing the parents.

Avoid talking over the child or interrupting them when they are speaking.

Being a good listener means knowing how to hold your tongue. When they are talking about their day over dinner, make sure that everyone else gets a turn to talk while the rest listen and stay quiet. This will encourage the family to not talk over each other and listen effectively. Also, when the child is trying to explain something that happened or trying to apologize or confess a mistake they made, shut up and listen. You will get your turn to express your feelings after they are done. Speaking at the same time during a misunderstanding or confrontation would only encourage angry behavior. 

Be Consistent with Your Rules and The Consequences for Breaking Them.

be consistent with your rules and the consequences for breaking them.

Make Sure that Your Instructions Are Simple and Easy to Understand

Most of the conflicts and confrontations that happen between parents and kids are miscommunication. It’s not that the kids weren’t listening; they just didn’t understand. This happens when we, as adults, assume that our kids have the same level of understanding and common sense as us. Ask them if they understood what you said (don’t use the drill sergeant voice, is that understood!?) and let them know that it is always alright to ask and clarify rather than go on assumptions. That goes for us, too.

Make Sure that They Know the Natural Consequences, Punishment, Rewards, Merits, and The Good Feeling You Get when They Do Good

Explain to them what would happen and what you would do. Example: “If you don’t help me do the laundry, you can’t wear your favorite shirt.” “If you don’t help me, you’ll get less screen time” (Punishment); “If you help, we finish early, and we can watch more TV” (Rewards); “It becomes easier when you help me with laundry” (Merits); “I have fun when you help me with the laundry.”

Set the House Rules with Them in Consideration

When setting up the house rules, make sure that the kids have a say in it. Consider that the kids will scream and giggle in delight inside your home, so a “silence is the golden rule” will suck the joy out of the kids. Also, make sure that the kids can negotiate punishment and extensions. This will teach them responsibility and accountability.

If necessary, give warnings before taking away privileges for breaking the rules.

If a rule is broken or a request or chore is not done, make sure that they understand what they did wrong. Read them the charges, read them their rights, advise them to lawyer up, and make sure that both parties understand the length of the punishment. 

Use a Calm Voice, Not an Angry One.

use a calm voice not an angry one.

Make It a Rule in The Family to Not Speak While Angry

Everyone has the right to express their anger through words, but not in an angry manner. This applies to everyone, including parents. Before you say something you don’t mean because of anger, take a deep breath and do not yell or scream. If you are too angry that they messed up the kitchen, and you are overwhelmed with emotions, it’s better for your voice to crack and tears to escape rather than screaming.

If you end up crying while talking to them, you show them that you are sad about something that they did or caused. If you are screaming, it would seem that you are angry and the reason for that anger is their existence. An angry voice may send the wrong message and encourage the same bad behavior in your kids. They will also scream and use their angry voices when they are hurt.

 Avoid repeating yourself

If it seems that the child is not listening, don’t just repeat yourself in a louder voice. Ask them if they heard you. Ask them to repeat what you said and to explain what you said. Be sensitive and observe their body language; look around if something is wrong. If they were watching TV when you said something, check the screen. Maybe Harry just caught a golden snitch; that’s why they didn’t hear you. Or they are locked in a deadly staring contest with a cockroach, and whoever breaks eye contact first gets attacked.

When they tell you an understandable reason why they didn’t hear you (earphones), that is when you repeat yourself. Keep in mind that you are raising kids to be loving adults and not soldiers ready to die in a trench.

Praise Their Good Behavior so That It Will Encourage More of The Same in The Future.

Positive reinforcement in the form of “thank you”, “I appreciate you”, “nice work”, and “awesome!” will go a long way. Just like us, when we hear those words from our boss or our partner, we work hard to hear them again. It works the same with kids. Acknowledging their efforts and accomplishments will boost their confidence, and they will want to do what they can to hear more from you. 

Be Patient and Understanding – Children Are Still Learning how To Listen and Understand What Is Being Said to Them.

Be patient with your kids; they are not adults. Cultivate positive behaviors by being understanding and gently nudging them in the right direction. The kids need guidance and understanding. Most kids have their own world and discover new things at their own pace. Sometimes, when it feels like they’re ignoring you, they might just be lost in their own world, admiring the mysteries of everything they see. Try to crouch down to their level and see what they see before assuming that they are ignoring you. Unless it’s an emergency, there is no need to rush them out of their world just to tell them the bath is ready. Ease up and be understanding. And as always, have a great day and have fun with the kids!



I'm a Mom of two daughters, Freya and Ava. I love to share insights on how parents can be better parents. I write about topics that are relevant to me as a parent: things like parenting style, relationship, marriage, and balancing work and family.

Boss Parenting
Enable registration in settings - general