Get Kids to Listen Without Yelling
Updated: Feb 25
Our children are tiny scientists. The world around them is big and they’re easily sucked in to discovery or play. Which can be wonderful when you need ten minutes to throw in a load of laundry or run to the bathroom. But less wonderful when it’s time to walk out the door because you’re running late for daycare/school/practice/dance lessons.
And here’s how it usually goes down: You tell your kiddo it’s time to go—but they don’t come. So you make your voice a bit more firm and maybe you try a different tactic—it’s time to put on your shoes, we need to leave! Still your little one doesn’t come. And by this time, that familiar anger is bubbling up in your chest. What do you have to do to get kids to listen? Maybe you stomp to where they are playing or watching television, seemingly ignoring you. Maybe you yell. This is the third time I’ve asked you to get ready! Let’s go! Now!
Your child starts to cry. Or becomes even more resistant to leaving. Sometimes there is a meltdown. And by the time everyone is strapped in the car, no one feels good.
Sound familiar? You’re not alone. In fact, the get kids to listen dilemma is so popular that I cover it more in-depth in my book, The Yelling Cure.
The real reason your child isn’t listening
Consider that many times when we ask our child to do something, we’re in the middle of doing something else. Maybe you’re in the kitchen grabbing lunch boxes while your child is watching television. Or maybe you’re packing up a freshly washed uniform in the mudroom while your child plays Legos upstairs. Whatever the differences in location and action—they’re not a recipe for cooperation.
However, by putting in work on the front-end, you alleviate work on the back-end.
Make a connection
To get kids to listen without yelling, it’s important to connect with them. So the next time you have to get ready to go, I want you to take note of where you are—and where your child is. Then I want you to walk up to them and physically make a connection. Ruffle their hair. Pat their back. Rub their arm. Whatever feels comfortable and natural. And then speak clearly and slowly. “Hey kiddo. It’s time to put your book away, we’re leaving for grandma’s house.”
Here’s why: You child is totally absorbed in whatever it is they are doing. They have zero outside awareness. So yelling at them from another room to get ready doesn’t work—they likely don’t hear you. Or they hear you but quickly forget what they need to do. However, when you make that physical connection, it helps them transition from their world of play back into the real world.
After you have made the physical connection and spoken aloud the request, you need to go with them. Walk by their side to put away the book or replace the blocks or turn off the television. Or pick them up if they’re still small enough that you can do so. And you take them to perform the request, and give them any help they need, to put on the jacket, grab the backpack, pull on the shoes—whatever it is.
“How long do I have to do it like that, Robbin?” I’m asked this question frequently. And the answer varies because our children vary. I realize this method of connecting with your child is a time investment. And I understand it can be tedious to have to do it over and over every time you are asking your child to do something. But consider that investing the time is better than the yelling spiral you may be currently trapped in, something I cover it more in-depth in my book, The Yelling Cure.
Moreover, approaching your ask this way will help you build a much stronger, more loving connection with your children. And I’m guessing you’re reading this article because you truly want that for your family. I want it for you, too!
Becoming the mom or dad you truly want to be isn’t always easy. However, I know you have it in you to be an amazing parent! And I’m cheerleading for you in a big way.
About the Author
Robbin is a global parenting expert. In her work as a Certified Parent Coach, she’s helped thousands of families all over the world, find more joy and connection with their kids so they can have the cooperation and relationship they always wanted.
Robbin’s award winning book, The Yelling Cure, is Mompreneur approved, and has sold over 300,000 copies all over the globe. Robbin hosts the podcast, Parenting our Future, where she helps parents navigate the complicated world of raising kids so they thrive! She has brilliant guests who share their expertise in areas such as, Co-Parenting, sleep solutions, raising boys, managing screen time, keeping your family safe, mental health and so much more.
To find out more about Robbin and her work, visit her here: www.parentingforconnection.com