How to Make Kids Actually Listen and Paying Attention to You

Raising children can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it can also be quite challenging, especially when it comes to getting kids to listen and pay attention. Even though it may be frustrating, it is important to know that it’s a normal part of a child’s growth. Children are naturally curious and like to explore, and they don’t have fully developed attention spans yet; they may have trouble staying focused for long periods of time and may be easily distracted by their surroundings. In addition, kids might not understand or care about the things that adults think are important, so they might not listen or pay attention when they should.

Several factors can make it hard for a child to pay attention and listen; some of these things are their age, personality, learning style, environment, and even medical conditions like ADHD or hearing impairment. Consequently, getting through to kids isn’t always easy. In fact, more often than not it’s a struggle. Talking to kids requires understanding how their minds work and what you need to do to get through to them.

However, despite the fact that it may be challenging, there are ways to help a child learn to listen and pay attention. Our goal today is to give you a few tips on how to do exactly that. By the time you’re done reading this guide, you should have a good idea of how to have your kids pay attention when you’re talking to them. Let’s get to it. 

Establish Focus 

Kids are often having a hard time focusing on adults who are trying to talk to them. Sometimes this lack of attention is caused by a larger underlying problem, but in most cases, it’s just kids being distracted. 

Either way, the very first step in establishing meaningful communication with your kid is to get their attention. You’ll need to grab their focus and maintain it throughout your talk. This probably sounds easier than it actually is. 

Establishing focus in children requires a combination of different strategies and techniques. One good way to do this is to set up a routine with designated times for focused activities like homework, reading, or practicing a skill. This routine can also help children develop a sense of discipline and responsibility. 

In addition, another way to do this is to eliminate distractions in the environment. Turn off the television or radio, and ensure the child is seated in a comfortable, distraction-free environment. Also, breaking up tasks into smaller, easier-to-handle parts can help kids stay on task. This will help the child learn to concentrate on the task at hand. Furthermore, give them breaks often and encourage them to go for short walks or do something physical during these breaks.

Ultimately, kids, especially small ones, usually focus their energy and attention on whatever they find interesting at the moment. If you approach them with a conversation that they might see as dull, you’ll be fighting to keep them focused on what you have to say. Timing is definitely a component of focusing your kid’s attention on yourself. 

Level With Them…Literally 

“Level With Them… Literally” is a common phrase that is often used to explain that when talking to kids, it’s important to get on the same level as them. Meeting a child at their eye level is important when you’re talking to them. You can do this by sitting or kneeling down to their height. Kneel down, so you’re level with your child. Coming down to their height will greatly improve your chances of maintaining their attention. 

Once you’re down there, talk to them in a way that shows compassion, especially if you’re asking them to do something they generally don’t like doing (chores, homework, etc.). The idea is to acknowledge their lack of enthusiasm and let them know that you understand. At the same time, you need to explain to them why they have to do what you need them to do.  This simple action shows the child that you respect and care about what they have to say, which makes them feel important and heard.

Communication is important for building and keeping relationships, especially between parents and their children. When parents and kids talk to each other well, it builds trust, strengthens their relationship, and helps them understand each other’s needs and wants. The best way to talk to children is to level with them both physically and emotionally. It’s usually a good idea to come up with simple rules that kids can understand, but how you explain these rules makes all the difference.

Parents can help their kids pay attention and talk to them better by getting down on their level. Also, it helps to use simple language that is right for the child’s age, to pay attention, listen actively, and stay away from distractions. By doing these simple things, parents can have better conversations with their kids and help them learn how to talk to others.

Don’t Yell 

Another way to get kids’ attention when talking to them is to not yell. Yelling may attract their attention for a moment, but it doesn’t create an ideal environment for talking. It can also make kids afraid, stressed out, and anxious, causing them to disengage.

Yelling is anything but productive. You might get the immediate results you need, but you’re doing more harm than good in the long run. That being said, we’re all human. Yelling is an emotional response that sometimes gets away from us. 

No one expects you to completely eliminate outbursts of yelling, but you should put effort into reducing such outbursts as much as possible. This is a solid rule for human interaction in general, but especially interaction with kids.

Try speaking in a calm and measured tone instead of yelling. This can assist in establishing a healthy and courteous conversation and de-escalate a crisis. Talking to kids should be gentle and firm. This can assert authority without being aggressive. For example, instead of saying, “Stop doing that!” which can be seen as negative and controlling, you can try saying, “Let’s try this instead,” and offer a positive alternative.

Be Tactical With Your Point 

Another way to get kids’ attention when you’re talking to them is to be tactical with your point. Instead of giving a long lecture or going in circles, make your point clear and concise. Use simple language and get right to the point. It’s also helpful to break up big ideas into smaller, more manageable pieces.

Talking to kids should be done using as few words as you can. As we’ve mentioned before, kids have short attention spans. You’ll be fighting to maintain their focus even if you’re very brief with your message.

Going into a long-winded speech will only get your kid confused and have them lose their interest fairly quickly. At the same time, you’ll end up frustrated thinking that your child is ignoring you on purpose. 

They’re not. They are just having trouble following what you’re saying. The best way to talk to a kid is to be tactical with your point. Use as few words as you can to drive the point home. This form of communication will resonate much better with your kid. 

Also, it’s important to think about the timing and context of your message. If a child is already upset or distracted, it might not be the best time to have a serious conversation. Choose a relaxed moment when they are more likely to be open to what you have to say.

Always Explain Why 

Telling kids to do something can cause a wide range of reactions. Some kids will comply without question, while others might throw a tantrum. Most negative reactions are caused by a lack of reasoning behind chores or instructions. 

Instead of bossing your kids around by ordering them to do something, try explaining why something needs to be done. Add meaning to a chore and explain to your kid why getting that particular chore done is important. That way you’re giving your chance to realize the consequences of their effort, which often leads to a sense of accomplishment. 

Adding the explanation to why something needs to be done works in the vast majority of cases, even with kids who aren’t prone to doing chores. 

Kids are Worth It 

Talking to children and having them do something can be frustrating. We’ve all seen that one parent who is burnt out and ready to call it quits. Use these tips to improve communication with your kid and be patient. 

They are worth the extra effort you might have to invest in your communication skills. Remember that you are raising a small human being who has their own character, emotions, and preferences.