One the the most frequent frustrations we experience as parents is children not listening. We repeat the same thing 5 times, or we repeat the same thing everyday, it just doesn’t seem to get through….

It’s easy to jump to frustration, because, well, it’s frustrating.

Most people listen in black and white. I’m trying to help the world understand that maybe we should be listening in colour”  ~ Oscar Trimboli, Author of Deep Listening – Impact Beyond Words

A national survey of children aged 6 to 12, carried out in the US, revealed that 62% of children say that their parents are distracted when they are trying to talk to them.

So, how can we lead and listen differently to help our children listen better?

Here’s 5 things to consider:

1. Are they kinaesthetic processors? Kineasthetic processors means they get absorbed in emotion – you may experience this as frequent tears to express themselves. Whenever kinaesthetics get immersed in experiences, they’re all in. Try tapping them on the shoulder whilst making your comment or request.

2. Acknowledge what is going on for you. Children pick up on our energy. Some more than others. If you’re finding your child’s not listening and you are having a challenging day, cut yourself some slack and share with your child what you’re feeling, “I’m feeling really challenged and tired right now, can you help me by…[make your request]” and give them the opportunity to respond. Try this, even if you have younger children. Children as young as four can understand your sentiment.

3. Is your child motivated by goals or problems? Utilise language that will motivate them in their preferred way. For example, if they are motivated by goals try saying, “it’s time to go to school, if you leave now you will get there by 8.45am” or if they are motivated by problems try saying, “It’s time to leave now otherwise you will be late.”

4. What meaning do you make of your child not listening? Is it a useful or an un-useful meaning? For example, my child isn’t listening because he or she is deliberately ignoring me. Or my child’s not listening because they’re absorbed in their task. Each meaning will place you into a different frame of mind. Choose a meaning that puts you in the most useful frame of mind to respond.

5. What’s the bigger picture? Is there a hormonal shift, a challenge at school or something else that may be contributing to their foggy thinking or occupying their thoughts, getting in the way of them listening?  Even with the best of relationships with our children, these external circumstances can affect your child’s ability to listen. In this circumstance, cut them some slack.

What works for you when your child’s not listening?

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