Tag Archives: Getting kids to listen

Kids Ears Clogged?

Parents know kids’ ears are stuffed with cotton balls at least 85% of the time.  Here’s some parent advice to pull the cotton from your kids’ ears, and I  am not talking about bribery.

Cartoon by Dilbert about the value of listening.

Parent advice

Love this cartoon by Dilbert. Problem?  The way most experts offering parent advice want you to get your kids to listen is far from easy and only works some of the time with some kids.

Actually, not listening is easier which is why kids too often reach for the cotton balls when you are talking.

Here are three easy tips for un-clogging  your kid’s ears. These come from Jean Tracy, the woman I go to when I need ideas about how to parent better. Today, she sent these tips as a gift to everyone who subscribes to her newsletter.  Her tips?

Tip one: Use your child’s name when you talk to him. His name is his favorite word and his ears will perk up. For instance give one direction and say, “Jason, please feed the dog before you play.”

Tip two: Pay attention and connect with eye contact. Show interest by saying, “How interesting, Tell me more,” or by asking an open-ended question like, “What did you like best about…?”

Tip three: Model good manners by letting your child complete his ideas. Avoid interrupting and giving your opinions too soon. Make sure he finishes his thoughts.

Good advice, now it is my turn.

My parenting tips about getting kids to listen? 

Parenting type one: Switch communication styles.  Yell occasionally, unless you already yell lots, and yes some good enough parents yell lots.  If you are a yeller, try whispering when you want your kids to listen. If you are not a yeller, try a raised voice or even a yell when you want a kid to un-stuff his or her ears.

Why this advice?

Kids do what the experts call habituate. You do too.  Habituate is a fancy word for “get used to.” My mother yelled more than she whispered.  When she started talking very quietly and very softly, we knew she meant business.

Think back to your childhood and ask yourself, “When did I know my mother or father meant it was time to pay attention?”

I often asked parents to answer that question at my parenting workshops. Every parent who shared, knew exactly when one or another parent meant business.  Your kids know it too. That is when they start listening.

So why does changing your pattern work.  Switching styles creates uncertainty and confusions; both are seen by researcher Jerome Kagan as strong motivators.   In fact the hypnotists use what they call “The Confusion Technique” as a way to put you into a trance and more obedient to what the hypnotist wants.  A skilled hypnotist will start you counting backward from one to ten, count with you and suddenly skill a number or two. You think whats going on here and pay more attention.

Parenting tip two:  Make Jean Tracy your parenting guru.  Go here to see all that she has to offer.  She is fantastic.

Stay strong

Remember what matters: good enough is good enough when parenting, kindness works best.

Finally, share this post if you think it will help another; doing so will certainly help both Jean and me.


P.S. Today’s Daily Prompt ask you to imagine what you would do if time stood still and you could tweak just one thing.  I thought well if I had a magic want, I would wave it so all would listen more and talk less.