10 ways to get your child to listen

Ways you can reach out to your tween if he never pays attention to what you say.


Does your new primary school kid ignore you when you tell him to do his homework? Why does your tween not listen when you ask her to do something?

         The truth is, there’s a stark difference in the way you'd talk to a pre-teen, as compared an infant and toddler. This is because you can no longer make your child do something simply because “you say so”. To establish your presence in their lives, you’ll need to embrace their emotions, growing curiosity and different personalities. Here’s how to bridge that gap.

 1. Make eye contact

Bend down to your child’s eye level and ensure you are looking at each other. By doing so, you not only make your child feel you’re taking him seriously, “but are also ensuring he's focused and paying attention”, explains clinical psychologist, Dr Hana Ra Adams*. However, make sure you don’t stare him down, as it might come across as controlling rather than connecting.

 2. Be specific

Remember that what may seem obvious to you, might not be obvious to your child. So, you need to be clear and very specific in what you want from him. “Instead of asking your child to ‘go get ready for school’, tell him exactly what to do — like brush his teeth then shower and put on his uniform,” Dr Adams advises. The clearer the message, the easier it is for your child to process and remember these instructions.

 3. Empathise

Just as there are days you don’t feel productive at work, your child may have times when he is slow to react, or makes mistakes or is unwilling to play the piano or do his homework. Sometimes he just needs a sign of reassurance from you that “off” days are acceptable, so he’ll feel comfortable knowing that you understand him. Try saying something like, “I know you’re feeling tired of all this maths, but finish this exercise, and let’s go for a walk after?”

 4. Ask questions

Dr Adams points out that the biggest reason that kids distance themselves from parents is because they feel parents aren’t listening. “As parents we feel we know our children and how the world works. Sometimes we forget to listen to them and really hear what they have to say and how they feel about something.” Show your interest in his life by asking questions regarding his likes and dislikes, whom he hangs out with, and what brightens his mood ― and make it a point to remember the info. “The more your child feels you know their inner world, the easier it will be for him to open up to you,” Dr Adams says.

Photo: INGimage

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