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Why Your Child Isn’t Listening to You

Trying to get your children to listen to you the first time you speak can feel like an uphill battle. Whether you have to tell them three times to turn off their device or to go to bed, it can be frustrating having to repeat yourself continually.

There is a balance to this though because, while it is important that your child gains some independence, they should also be able to follow directions. We take a look at some of the reasons why your child might not be listening to you and share some useful tips on how to try and improve their listening skills.

You Use Too Many Warnings

Unfortunately, if you give your child too many warnings, they will learn to call your bluff. If you are continually having to count down or say “this is your last chance” then it won’t be effective. By doing this, you are teaching your child not to listen the first time you speak and instead ignore you and carry on with whatever it is that they are doing. If you repeat yourself, your child will begin to tune you out.

Two young St Peter's Prep school children

You Use Meaningless Threats

When your child doesn’t listen to you, if you react by saying “you won’t be allowed out of the house again” or “I will throw all of your toys away” or something to that effect, then you aren’t likely to be successful. You are merely lashing out due to frustration, and your child will recognise that you won’t follow through with these outrageous consequences.

It isn’t just the meaningless threats that can be a problem. Sometimes, when you mean to threaten a punishment, it could be seen as a reward to your child. For example, if you say “I will turn this car around right now if you don’t stop”; your child may prefer to be at home, and this could then turn into your child asking to go home instead.

You Entertain Power Struggles

It can be very easy to get sucked into an argument with your child, but the longer you do this, the longer your child is avoiding the original instruction. For example, if you and your child have been arguing for 20 minutes, then this is 20 minutes that they delayed completing the instruction you gave at the start.

Two young St Peter's Prep school children

You Aren’t Following Through with Consequences

A negative consequence is put in place to teach your child to make better choices in the future. However, if you threaten the consequence and then don’t actually follow through with it, your child will not learn.

Threatening to take away privileges without doing so or giving in when your child begs, won’t be effective. You must teach your child to believe what you say when you say it. Consequently, you should only offer a warning if you are willing to follow through with it.

You Are Prone to Raising Your Voice

It is incredibly frustrating when your child isn’t listening to you, but you must resist the temptation to raise your voice. Yelling won’t lead to good results and will simply teach your child to tune you out. Shouting at your child can also ruin your relationship and could result in them not listening to you in the future.

St Peter's Prep school children playing rugby

How to Teach Your Child to Listen to You

Ensure that when you give directions, you give them just once. If your child doesn’t listen, follow up with a warning and then be ready to give them a consequence if they do not take action. You must stick to this; it will be challenging to start with, but, in the long run, it will make your life a lot easier.

Try to avoid raising your voice or entering an argument, be assertive and make your child aware of the consequences if they don’t listen. Ensure the punishments you offer are realistic, e.g. take away the iPad.

St Peter’s Prep is a mixed boarding school in Devon, and we understand that teaching your child these vital skills is of the utmost importance. It can be quite an attractive option for parents to use boarding as opposed to a babysitter. We offer a flexi-boarding option as well as weekly boarding, so you can find the set up that works well for both you and your child.

If you would like more information, you can contact us on 01395 272148 or email us at hmoffice@stpetersprepschool.co.uk.

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