How To Talk To Your Kids So They Actually Listen

Mom with her tween daughter relaxing in bed, positive feelings, good relations.

There is no denying it: parenthood can be tough. The responsibilities are immense, and the journey can be exhausting and challenging, but it is also super inspiring and rewarding. Communication is one of the main aspects of maintaining a positive, productive relationship with your child, but we are all aware that this can be far easier said than done. 

Talking so your child will listen is difficult, and there are a variety of choices that can impact the effectiveness. From the tone of voice to the language you choose, here are some of our top tips to help you maintain open and effective communication with your child and build a bond that will last a lifetime.

Twin Cities parents know that this is a fantastic place to live and raise your family. We all want to make sure our kids grow up to be happy, healthy, and well-adjusted adults. Establishing a good relationship now is essential. Joining Twin Cities Kids Club will yield a wealth of knowledge, events, and discounts to help along the way.

Father talking to son near pool side

Make the most of names

Using your child’s name helps to make the conversation more personal, and is the perfect way to get their attention. Addressing them by their name ensures that they are engaged and alert, and so more receptive to your message. 

Young children usually only have the attention span to focus on one concept at a time, and so making sure you capture their interest before delivering your request is crucial

Check your language

The language you use can have an enormous impact on the effectiveness of your communication. Try to make sure you are always leading with positivity rather than negativity; this helps to build your child’s confidence and self-esteem, encouraging them to make more positive choices as they grow.

  • DON’T say, “Don’t drop the plate!” DO say, “Hold on to that plate tightly – its special!”
  • DON’T say, “Don’t drag your coat on the ground!” DO say, “Pick up your coat carefully, so it doesn’t drag on the ground!”
  • DON’T say, “Stop being a baby!” DO say, “Are you feeling sad today?”
  • DON’T say, “Don’t grab your toys from your friend.” DO say, “Please share your toys. That will make your friend happy.”
  • DON’T say, “Clean up better!” DO say, “Thank you for helping me clean, but we missed an area. Let’s finish cleaning before we move on.”

Louder is not always better

When you feel as though you are losing control, raising your voice may seem like a tempting option, but it is unlikely to be effective. Your child is far less likely to listen, and there is a high chance you will be drowned out if they decide to start a full volume tantrum at the same time! Instead, use a calm, respectful tone, and model the behavior you expect.

Father and daughter relaxing on a rocky beach by the sea and having time together

Acknowledge your child’s feelings

You may not understand the issue which has your child so upset, but that doesn’t mean that their feelings are invalid. Dismissing their worries or concerns gives the impression that you don’t take them seriously, and this could lead to them being reluctant to confide in you later on. 

Instead, statements such as “I can see you are feeling quite angry,” can help ensure that they feel heard and respected.

Keep it simple

As we mentioned, kids have a short attention span, and so bombarding them with too many instructions will leave them overwhelmed and switched off. Instead, keep your requests short, simple, and one at a time. This act allows everyone to achieve the desired outcome, with less stress!

Make sure you give your full attention

All of us have busy lives, and it is easy to fall into the trap of a ‘half conversation’ – carrying out another task while you listen to what your child has to say. Try to quit this bad habit by making sure you give your child your total attention; stop what you are doing, make eye contact, and allow them to feel as though you are genuinely listening.

Pick your battles

Your children must know the rules and have established boundaries. Still, it is also essential to pick your battles, and continually telling kids “no” or “stop” will quickly become restrictive, and they will eventually tune out and stop listening. 

Instead, try and be flexible, and ask yourself whether the issue at hand is worth starting a fight over. When you choose serious situations to address means that when you do need to talk, they are far more likely to listen.

Let them finish

If your child is asking for help or advice, it can be tempting to jump in with suggestions and possible solutions straight away. Sometimes, however, it can be far more valuable for your child if you simply listen and let them finish without interruption. 

Talking through an issue with you can help them to come up with a suitable solution on their own, or allow them to express any fears or concerns in a safe, supported environment.

Mother And Daughter Sitting At Kitchen Table And Talking

Separate the behavior from the child

It is essential to see any negative behavior as being separate from your child and make it clear to them that you understand this difference. Make this evident in your language by using ‘I’ statements.

  • DON’T say, “You’re a horrible child for hitting your sister.” DO say, “It makes me feel really sad when you’re mean to your sister.”
  • DON’T say, “You’re really bad for doing that.” DO say, “It makes me sad and worried when you act like that.”
  • DON’T say, “What are you thinking doing that?” DO say, “Do you think what you did was helpful?”

Ask open-ended questions

If you sense that there is more to say, make sure you keep your questions open-ended. This style of communication can also be a great way to show that you are listening and that you are genuinely interested in what your child has to say. 

It also reduces the risk of a closed conversation consisting of simple “yes” or “no” responses.

Displeased little boy looking at camera, sitting on sofa at room near father

Be patient

Patience is possibly the most important thing to keep in mind if you want your kids to listen. They have a habit of disappearing off on endless tangents when telling a story, and it is easy to feel frustrated and impatient. Though it is hard, staying patient and engaged shows that you take them seriously and respect what they have to say – and this is crucial in your relationship.

A great way to continue to build relationships between the big talks is fun family games to play at home. Check out our list of family board games for some good family fun.

Parenting is a challenge, but there is no reason you can’t have a little fun now and then! For the opportunity to grab access to exclusive events and top discounts, why not check out Twin Cities Kids Club today?


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