Quick tips for when kids don’t listen
- Quick tip 1Get their attention.Get their attention.
Say their name and then pause before you give an instruction or ask a question. Have them make eye contact while you speak.
- Quick tip 2Make it easier to listen.Make it easier to listen.
Slow down when you speak. Use shorter, simpler, and more direct sentences with fewer words.
- Quick tip 3Repeat what you say.Repeat what you say.
Ask if it would help to hear it again, or just say, “I want to make sure you heard me, so I’m going to repeat it.”
- Quick tip 4Be an ally.Be an ally.
Even if you’re frustrated, try to offer support. Say, “If you’re not sure about what I said or what I meant, I’m happy to explain.”
It can be really frustrating when kids don’t seem to listen when you ask them a question or give them an instruction. You might wonder if there’s a problem or if they’re ignoring you on purpose.
A lot depends on age. When kids are little, they often don’t seem to be listening. They may be wrapped up in a game they’re playing. Or they may hear you but not look at you, so you don’t realize they are listening.
As kids get older, they typically learn a simple social rule — when someone is talking, you stop and look at the person, so the person knows you’re listening.
Sometimes, though, it becomes obvious that a child doesn’t listen very well. What could be causing that? It’s possible the child has a hearing problem, and that’s the first thing to check out. But there are other reasons kids have a hard time listening.
Two common cases are trouble with language or trouble with following directions. Focus challenges can also play a role.
No matter what’s causing the difficulty, it’s important to know that kids don’t mean to be disrespectful. They just need help building the skills they need for listening.