Have you ever felt frustrated when your child doesn’t listen to you? Getting children to listen can be challenging, especially in a world where there are so many distractions around them – toys, digital devices, etc.
Here are six simple tips to effectively capture your child’s attention and communicate with him.
Tip 1: Play a ‘listening’ game with your child.
Give your child a simple listening task. For example, tell your child that you are going to describe an object, place, person, or event and that he needs to listen carefully. Afterwards, ask him to share with another family member what he has heard from you. The family member will then repeat what your child has said. This can be an interesting game to play at home with family members or during play dates with your child’s friends!
Tip 2: Encourage your child to ask questions.
When watching animated films, cartoons, and educational videos with your child, pause the videos along the way and encourage him to raise a question about what he just heard. This way, your child concentrates and practises active listening.
Tip 3: Give instructions only once.
When you have to give instructions to your child, say it only once. Try to refrain from repeating yourself. Say your kid has a designated household chore, like putting his clothes in the laundry basket. Every time he has to do this, remind him only once. When you set the expectation that your child obeys the first time, he is more likely to do so in future.
Tip 4: Praise your child when he listens.
Be generous with your praise, and give compliments and rewards appropriately. For example, during the listening game discussed earlier, if your child is able to repeat the word(s) correctly, it would be appropriate to praise or reward him for listening well.
Give praise to your child not only when he listens to you, but also to other family members, he friends, and teachers. Consistently doing this will boost his confidence and motivate him to pay attention to anyone who is speaking to him. And as he grows up, he will realise that it is indeed important to be a good listener.
Tip 5: Make eye contact.
Making eye contact with your child is like saying, “Look at me and pay attention while I’m talking to you.” It is an effective way of connecting with your child. When your eyes meet, it sends the signal that you are focusing on what your child is saying, and vice versa. Additionally, making eye contact requires both of you to stop what you’re doing and listen closely.
Tip 6: Role-model attentive listening.
One reason why children don’t listen well is because they feel no one is paying attention to them. They feel like they’re not cared for and understood, and thus think that it won’t matter even if they don’t listen to others. This could occur when you don’t realise you’ve been too preoccupied with other matters, and not giving your full attention to your child.
As parents, you are your child’s closest role-models. Learn the importance of paying proper attention to your child and let him know through your actions that you are giving your undivided attention. This will not only help improve his listening abilities, but also build trust in the relationship. Your child will open up to you, knowing that you are ready to listen to him about what he has to share, be it about his new friends, or experiences in school.
No matter how challenging it might seem to get your child to listen, don’t give up or lose hope. Habits take time to change, but with love, encouragement and role-modelling, your child will eventually become a better listener.