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Get Your Child to Listen the First Time!

By Toni Schutta

Shut the TV off. I said shut the TV off. I said SHUT THE TV OFF!!

Does this sound familiar? Do you have to say things three or four times before your child finally complies with your request? Frustrating, isn’t it?

You’re not alone. The biggest complaint that most parents have is that their child doesn’t listen the first time.

There are lots of reasons why your child may not be listening the first time. Listed below are five reasons why kids tend to ignore their parents’ requests and solutions for turning the behavior around. These tips come from the online audio class, “Get Your Child to Listen the First Time!” which gives you 19 options for reducing your stress by getting your kids to listen the first time.

Reasons Why Kids Ignore Parents

1. Parent error! Any statement that you make to your kids can either be said in a positive way or a negative way. The positive approach is likely to gain more compliance. Negative statements are more likely to alienate or irritate your child.

For instance, you can say: Look what you just did! How many times do I have to tell you to take your shoes off at the door?! How would your child feel hearing this? Ashamed? Upset? Humiliated? Or you could say: Shoes stay on the rug. How would your child feel hearing this statement? Probably OK, right?

Solution: Really examine the word choices you’re making. As often as you can, use positive communication when telling your child to do something. Strive to use positive phrases 95% of the time.

2. It’s hard to leave a desirable activity for an undesirable one.

Let’s say your child is playing on the computer and you say Shut off the computer and come unload the dishwasher. Hmmmmm. Computer?? Dishwasher??? What do you think your child would rather do?

Solution: Empathize with your child about how hard it is to leave an activity that s/he enjoys. Provide the child with a 10-minute warning, a 2-minute warning and then place your hand on the child’s shoulder and establish eye contact to move through the change of activity. Or have the child use a timer. Enforce a logical consequence if your child does not comply.

3. Stressors in the family.

Health concerns, a pending divorce, a death in the family, adapting to a new school, or other problems could be causing your child extra stress. Many of these problems are beyond a child’s control and so s/he will try to take control back by being more “defiant” to a parent’s requests.

Solution: Provide empathy. Your child is going through a tough time and responding with kindness and understanding will help your child more than “laying down the law”. You should still require your child to do what you’ve asked, but use a soft touch when you can. Provide extra hugs and allow the child to make choices in other areas.

4. Your child’s developmental age.

The developmental tasks of separating from you and exerting power and control are more pronounced during different stages of development. Parents with children ages 3, 5, 11 and 13+ seem to experience the most difficulty.

Solution: Don’t take this behavior personally. Create a mantra “like It’s developmental”. Say this mantra to yourself when your child is being defiant so you keep your cool and stay on task in getting the job done.

5. It works!

Let’s say that you ask your child to pick up the toys off the floor so you can vacuum. Your child doesn’t pick up the toys, so you just clean up the toys so you can get done vacuuming. What has your child learned? Mom and Dad will mop up after me if I hold out long enough.

Solution: Make sure that your child follows through with requests you make. Set up a consequence for noncompliance and follow through.

Author: By Toni Schutta, Parent Coach, M.A., L.P. provides parents with practical solutions that work. Visit to receive the free mini-course “The 7 Worst Mistakes Parents Make” (and How to Avoid Them!) The audio class, Get Your Child to Listen the FIRST Time is available at

2 Responses to “Get Your Child to Listen the First Time!”

  • Rina Khatri:

    Hi, i read your this parenting solutions. They look good information but no matter what i did or not did nothing makes diffirent to this kids. So what to do my daughter is now 12 yr old and she is like a 60 yr old lady she has no respect what so ever for me mother. But she does listern to her dad but now she not listern to him either.

    So what is these mantras? let me know so i can get some releif i acutually having hard time dealing with her day to day life. You know when i grow up i never bother my mom in this behavious, we were 3 sisters i was younger.
    I do my prayers every day for good behavious nothing is helping. I live in canada is that why kid do what they do
    thats no excuse , from what i have seen here ever since i came to canada kids are very self centred and no respact what ever for paretns. I don’t know please help. Thanks!

    • Autumn:


      It is not where you live that is causing the miss behavior. It is possibly not following through. Children need to be given boundries, they need to respect authority, ways that this can be done are by making the child have a consequence to not listening. this may not exactly go along with the article writen above but I have seen first hand with many teens that if they are not given a consequence then they will assume they can do what they want and treat people the way that they want. If she yells at you calmly tell her that it isnt acceptable to disrespect people if she has a cell phone, take it from her and tell her that she isnt using her phone for a week becasue pf the way she talked to you. after a week give it back, in the mean time if it continuesx, remove another priveledge,

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