You may feel the frustration of having to repeat yourself again and again before your children listen to you. You seem to have to give the same instruction repeatedly before they even acknowledge you have spoken. This can cause you to become that person that shouts – or worse – snappy and irritable all of the time.  It is easy to get into a blaming culture, where your kids are out of control and you have completely failed as a parent.

How can you get them to listen to you the first time?

Kids, like husbands we have learnt, presume you will repeat yourself.  So, when you say: “Put your clothes away, Tom.” Tom will selectively disregard what he has heard – mostly because he knows you will say it again soon anyway.  He will likely wait until the tone of voice is pretty stressed or you are shouting the instruction before he listens to you.

It therefore becomes a matter of changing your behaviour to change the behaviour of your child.  Tough to hear – we know – but it is often a truth that our bad habits create poor reactions in our children.

First, don’t take it personally if they don’t follow the instruction immediately.  They are not ignoring you – they have just chosen not to hear you. It is maddening when they do it – but they are not disrespecting you – they are being kids and trying to push it a little and test the boundaries.  So, keep your calm. Remember the number of times your child has spoken to you and you haven’t acknowledged what they have said – should they get mad at you?


#1 Get their attention from the start

If something is important then get your child’s full attention from the start.  Before issuing the instruction – get their attention and tell them what you want to happen.  It might be if you need them to start listening to your instructions that you sit them down and chat to them about how it feels to have to repeat yourself all the time until you shout.  Give the child the chance to understand the impact of their behaviour.

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