Why Our Children Don’t Listen – And What to Do About It

A grandmother once told me how her grandchild had the habit of fending off family members, when they tried to engage him in conversation, by saying, “Don talka me! Don talka me!”

Why was he saying that? And what can we learn from it?

Here’s what I see:

On the one hand, we parents often say, “My children don’t listen.”

On the other hand, we spend a lot of time talking to our children.

Is there a connection here?

I think so!

Here’s my thought: I actually think we spend too much time talking to our children.

Bear with me – because you’re probably thinking, isn’t it great to communicate with our children? Isn’t that what we’re meant to be doing?

And I’d say, yes, totally. It’s probably the most important thing that we can do. But it’s about the how.

It’s all about the how.

Watch the video or scroll down to read more…

Here’s what we tend to do:

  • try to persuade children to do things that they don’t want to do.
  • try to convince children to see things the way they see them, reasoning with them and explaining why things are the way we see them.
  • ask children whether they had a good time – at school, or with friends, for example.
  • try to encourage children not to feel things by saying things like,

“You’ll be fine.”

“It’ll all be alright.”

“It’s all good. Don’t worry.”

You may be thinking ‘It’s normal to say these things.’ And you’d be right in thinking that sometimes it’s necessary to bring children to do things they don’t want to do!.

But the question is, what part of ourselves does all this communication come from?

Is it coming from a strong, wise part of ourselves?

Or is it coming from a worried, stressed part of ourselves?

My sense is that a lot of what we say comes from a worried or stressed part of ourselves.

This part worries that:

  • our children might turn out feral – or at least not learn how to behave properly.
  • they might miss out on some experience we want them to have.
  • they might be feeling sad, bad or disappointed.
  • we parents might be ignored or lose our authority completely.

When we communicate with children from this place of stress or worry, it’s hard for children. We may have stern or worried expressions on our faces. They sense that we WANT something from them. And they resist this. They don’t like it. And that’s the reason why they don’t listen a lot of the time.

When a lot of this is happening, children get into a habit of zoning us out.

Our children stop listening. They ignore us, they say no, they run off, or they literally block their ears!

So, what can we do about this? How can we make it easier for our children to listen?

Here are three things you can take forward and practise in your daily life to improve this situation.

#1 – Reflective practice

First of all, develop a reflective practice of asking yourself where your communication is coming from. Is it coming from a place of worry?

Or is it coming from somewhere else, like a wish to connect?

You may notice that some of what you’re saying is coming from a place of worry – or even panic.

#2 – Just say less!

Experiment with sometimes not saying the habitual things. Just don’t, and see what happens.

#3 – Observe your child’s response

Observe what your child puts into the space that opens up when you’re saying less.

This is such a lovely practice – just being quiet and waiting for your child to say something!

I believe children are longing for us to trust them more.

And when we do trust them more, this creates space. They feel they can be more themselves and they can express more of themselves. And when that happens, it’s just so beautiful. And it’s a sign that you’re on the right track.

When we hold back with all the asking and explaining, it also makes it easier for your children to listen when you do have something that needs to be heard.

Talking less is a gift to your child. Try it.

Solve the Struggle with Your Kids

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The 6 Wise Parenting Powers

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Solve the Struggle with Your Kids

parenting-3d-cover_500

The 6 Wise Parenting Powers

Download my no cost guide to raising a secure and happy family.

By signing up you're agreeing to receive the guide, a few emails to help you get started and my irregular newsletter, with useful articles and resources, news of free parenting trainings and special offers on my mentoring services. You can unsubscribe at any time. Privacy Policy.