6 Reasons Why Your Child Is Not Listening To You

Frustrated because your child doesn't pay attention to what you say? We list six possible reasons why your child is ignoring you.

By Jasmine Kaur

6 Reasons Why Your Child Is Not Listening To You

Sometimes, your child may act like he hasn't heard a word of what you said or ignore you outright. As a parent, such behaviour can be extremely frustrating.

But, have you tried finding out what is preventing your child from listening to you? Is it a sign of bad behaviour or are there other reasons?

Often, the reason for your child not listening to you may lie with you. Here are six reasons why your child may not be paying attention to you:

1. What you say isn't easy to understand: It is hard for children, and even adults, to follow a series of instructions. Giving children multiple instructions at the same time can force them to tune you out — that is, stop listening or paying attention. Also, if you are not clear in expressing what you want your child to do, he may not act according to your wishes.

  • What you should do: Give your child one instruction at a time and make him repeat them. Also, use age-appropriate words. Your child is more likely to understand if you are brief and use simple words to express yourself.

2. You talk without getting your child's attention: Sometimes, your child can become so engrossed in what she is doing, that she may not hear what you are saying. Remember, as children grow up, their ability to focus and concentrate also increases and, they tend to spend more time in activities of their interest.

  • What you should do: Before you begin talking to your child, get her attention by either gently lifting her chin and establishing eye contact or, sitting beside her and saying something like, "Please listen to what I am going to say." Or, you can wait until your child finishes what she is engaged in before you speak to her.

3. You have set a bad example: Children observe their parents and try to follow in their footsteps. Some parents set a poor example by not paying attention when their child is communicating with them or requesting their attention. And, when the child also behaves in the same way later on, parents feel bad.

  • What you should do: Although you may be juggling several responsibilities, you should understand that your children also need your attention. So, close the report you are reading, keep your phone down, switch off your laptop and, be there for your child when he walks up to you expecting to be heard.

4. You let your child get away without consequences: Some children wilfully ignore their parents. This can be to resist being controlled or directed. This habit gets a boost when parents allow their child to get away with the tendency.

  • What you should do: Together with your child, set rules to foster good behaviour and consequences for not following them. One of the rules you can come up with is for your child to pay attention when you are communicating with her. And, if she deliberately does not listen while you are talking to her, be firm in implementing the consequences.

5. You sound critical: Constant criticism, or scolding and yelling by an exasperated parent can make a child tune the parent out. Children, as much as adults, dislike being talked to in an angry tone or a harsh manner. It makes the child perceive the parent as a threat and look for ways to escape.

  • What you should do: Instead of speaking to your child in a loud voice or monotone, use a calm, soft and loving tone, or a firm tone when necessary. Remember, children respond best to kindness and to firmness.

6. Your child may have a medical condition: Sometimes, medical conditions like hearing deficit or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) can prevent a child from listening or paying attention to what is being said.

  • What you should do: If you suspect that your child doesn't listen to you even though there seems to be nothing wrong with her, do seek expert opinion to find out the correct cause. This can help set your child on the path to recovery.

Now that you know why children don't listen and, how you can get them to pay attention, keep in mind that changing a child's listening habit will take time. So, find out why your child isn't listening to you, and remember to be patient and persistent in your efforts.

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