Have you ever found yourself trying to communicate with your child and instead wanting to bang your head against the wall? Kids can be tough to communicate with, and often parents resort to yelling. But there are more effective ways to communicate and know what to do when kids don’t listen.
One way to communicate with your child is active listening. This is when you make eye contact with your child, give them your full attention, get down on their level, and reflect back to them what they said to make sure they feel understood.
Active listening is what therapists do when they work with your child. And therapists like us who work with kids can help you learn what to do when kids don’t listen by using active listening yourself. One of the goals of active listening is to get kids listening to parents. So how does a parent use active listening when communicating with a child?
What To Do When Kids Don’t Listen
When your child isn’t listening to you, it can be easy to want to punish them. Of course, sometimes kids deserve punishment because discipline is an important part of parenting. But yelling and punishing don’t always work. Sometimes your kid can completely tune you out and shut down when you yell.
Listening to parents can be hard for kids sometimes. It can also be a way for kids to assert their power. When kids don’t feel in control of their actions or their bodies, they shut down and “don’t listen.” But “not listening” is a symptom of a bigger problem. It’s your job to figure out what’s really going on under the surface when your child appears not to listen.
When trying to figure out what to do when kids don’t listen, it’s important to pay attention to the signs. For example, when kids try to cope with the unknown, they may act out in ways that they usually don’t. When this happens, it’s your job to figure out what’s wrong.
Kids don’t always have the words to explain what they’re feeling. Active listening can help them be seen and understood, even when the world feels topsy-turvy. So how do parents use active listening when communicating with a child?
Why Kids Aren’t Listening To Parents
There are many reasons why it may seem that you’re child isn’t listening. It’s tough to know what to do when kids don’t listen. Active listening can help you sort out the real problem.
Sometimes kids aren’t listening to parents because they don’t understand what is being said. They may have trouble comprehending a situation. Instead of asking for clarification, they either tune out, shut down, or have a meltdown.
Many kids lose track of what is being said or they lose focus. They can get distracted and have difficulty remembering what was said to them. They may struggle with hearing, especially if you’re in a crowded or noisy place. Just because they’re not responding to you doesn’t mean they aren’t trying to listen.
How Can Active Listening Make A Difference?
If you practice active listening, your child will feel understood and listened to. Instead of punishing, get down on their level, make eye contact, and reflect back what they are saying. This gives you information about what might be going on rather than jumping to conclusions that they aren't listening.
You may wonder – how does a parent use active listening when communicating with a child? We’ve already covered what active listening is. The hard part is putting it into practice. It can be easy to get angry with your child if they appear as if they aren’t listening. When you’re angry, you’re less likely to access the part of yourself that can actively listen to your child.
This is why it’s important to remember that every child is different. They process and hear things differently. This means that your approach to each of your children will be unique.
The practice of active listening helps kids who aren’t listening to feel differently. If you express interest in what’s going on with your child without dismissing them or writing off their behavior as not listening, you’re more likely to get the results that you want.
Simply getting down on their level and making eye contact can make your child feel as if you care about what is going on with them. If you do this instead of punishing or yelling, your child is more likely to listen in the future.
Talk through things with your child. Ask them questions. Reflect back on what they are saying so that they have a greater understanding of what’s going on.
It’s easy as a parent to dismiss your child when it appears that they aren’t listening. It’s also easy to want to go about your business if you’re in the middle of something and your kid comes to you with a small problem. But if you stop and practice active listening, your child will feel listened to and understood. And the more they feel listened to, the more likely they are to listen in the future.
We know it can be difficult to deal with your child if you feel as if they aren’t listening. Active listening can support your child and help you know what to do when kids don’t listen.
If you’re looking for support in finding ways to learn active listening and help your child listen, we’re here to help. Book a free consult to talk to our professional social workers today.