Help! My Kids Won’t Listen!

Some days I just feel like screaming. And I don't want or like to be a screaming mom. But seriously, it makes me CRAZY when my kids don't listen to a word I'm saying.

Is it just me?

Please don't tell me I'm the only mom who goes through the listening blues with her kids. Because if I am, it must mean I'm doing something seriously wrong as a parent.

Really…I LOVE being a mom. And I LOVE my children more than anything. But there have been days when I've actually threatened to take them to the doctor to have their ears exchanged for a new pair that actually work. {I know…such awful parenting words!} Usually by the time that threat comes out of my mouth, I'm already at my wits end.

And yes, it scares them…and backfires when they have to go to the doctor for something like a well-check or illness. I'm telling you, I really wish God would have sent them to us with their own unique instruction manuals.

Anyway, a few months ago I decided something had to change. So I spent some time thinking about the reasons my girls weren't hearing my words and started experimenting with a few different parenting methods to see what worked and what didn't.

First, I recognized a few things about them:

  1. They get excited - A LOT. They love to run and play, laugh and giggle, chase each other, jump around, and get crazy. When they are in play mode, the ears are only tuned into intense laughter. Everything else their ears pick up on just sounds like Charlie Brown's teacher. Whawha-whawha-whawha…
  2. They get super hyper when they're tired and also very emotional. This is a time to tread lightly and with a great amount of patience and problem solving skills. A little bit of creativity is also helpful.
  3. They don't enjoy transition. They get so focused and become so engrossed in what they're doing that it's a major ordeal to get them to switch gears and do something else that I might be asking them to do. {Can't say I blame them on this one. I tend to be the same way!}
  4. They {especially my two year old} like to test their limits with me. It's as if they are wondering to themselves, "How long can I ignore mommy before her head starts spinning all the way around, she makes all those funny facial expressions, and her hair catches on fire?"
  5. They hate conflict. So if it seems they might be in trouble for not listening, they will act as though they never heard me to begin with. And often times the blame will be shifted to the other child. "Well, mommy, we were hiding from you {the monster}, and we couldn't hear what you were saying because we didn't want the monster {YOU} to get us! It was Abby's idea to hide."

They are SO cute! Even when I'm crazy frustrated with them I love them SO much!

Well, with all of this in mind, I think {and hope} I came up with some easy solutions. At least so far they seem to be making a difference. And I realize I may have to make adjustments as they get older.

  • When my girls have something to say to me, I'm often so busy doing other things that I sort of multi-task while I'm listening to them. Which means what they see is mommy NOT giving them her undivided attention. So why should they offer the same courtesy to me? They deserve my complete attention when they're telling me something about their day or are asking me a question. Now I make sure to stop and give them the attention they deserve.
  • Sometimes, they are so focused on something else, that a gentle touch of my hand on their shoulder or getting down on my knees at their level is all they need to break that focus and hear what I have to say.
  • Short and sweet is much more pleasant for their ears than a long, drawn out request. This is especially important with my two year old. My five year old can listen to two or three part requests without a problem, but she seems to respond better to only one request at a time. So I'm trying to keep things simple.
  • Every once in a while there is just too much distraction or noise to get their full attention. So in those cases, moving my child out of the room {say at a playdate or party}…or perhaps pausing the TV if we are home, helps to get them tuned into what I'm saying rather than hearing only the distractions all around.
  • Making sure my requests are realistic and age-appropriate is also important. I shouldn't ask my two year old to clear her plate from the table and rinse it if she's too little to reach the kitchen sink. Likewise, I can't ask my five year old to start a load of laundry if she's never been shown how to operate the washing machine or measure the soap. {Not that I have ever asked such outlandish things before, but you get the point.}
  • Quickly rewarding positive listening skills. When my kids stop and listen and then follow the listening with doing what they've been asked, I make sure to give lots of hugs, praises, and cheers.
  • A friend of mine introduced me to the idea of a reward jar system. So we have a reward jar filled with scraps of paper that each have a fun reward written on them. When the girls have sufficiently earned it, we let them pull from the reward jar. Likewise we have a discipline jar that works the same way. Of course the discipline's written down are not anything really bad. But they don't know that. Anyway, this comes in handy for those days when nothing seems to be tuning their ears into what mommy is saying. One mention of the jars, and they are fully tuned in.

Do you ever have those CRAZY mommy days when your kids don't listen? How do you deal with it? I'd love to hear your tips and tricks!

~Until next time, May God bless you with all of your words being heard!

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Rosann is wife to the man of her dreams and stay-at-home mom to two delightful little girls. Her heart's greatest passions are loving her family well, long-distance running, writing, and pretty much anything dark chocolate peanut butter. Rosann loves to encourage women whose husbands are in a season of unemployment, at her other website Her writing inspiration comes from a strong desire to glorify God while sharing the heart of her journey through a life of faith. She is also the Author of two books - UnEmployed Faith: Clothing Yourself in Strength and Perseverance Through his Season of Unemployment, and Refuel Your Inner SuperMom: A Practical Guide to Getting Your Groove Back.