15 Ways You’re (Unknowingly) Telling Your Kid to Not Listen to You

15 Ways You’re (Unknowingly) Telling Your Kid to Not Listen to You

Does your child not listen to you? You might be doing these 15 things that unknowingly make your child not to listen to you.

Ever wonder why your child refuses to follow your instructions? As parents, we become so preoccupied with saying what we want to say that we don’t stop to think if the message that we want to impart is being understood properly. We all fall into making these parenting mistakes.

In fact, more often than not, the words that we say may actually be telling our child NOT listen to us. Amanda Morgan, mom and educator behind popular blog, Not Just Cute with Amanda Morgan gives us tips on why our child may not be listening to us!

15 Common Parenting Mistakes:

Making It Sound Optional

As adults, when asked to do something in a certain manner, we know that we don’t usually have a choice and that we’re being asked out of politeness. This, however, does not work with kids. 

So, when you want your child to eat dinner, but ask, “Do you want to eat your dinner?” you are not telling them what to do, you’re giving them the option to say no to your request. Avoid parenting mistakes like these. Instead, give directions that are straight and worded positively, such as, “It’s time to finish up dinner, please!” or “You need to join us for dinner now.”

Creating the Wrong Picture

As parents, we need to give directions to kids in such a way that it paints a mental picture of what we want them to do. An example that Amanda gives is the instruction, “Don’t bounce in your seat.” 

She says that the visual image created is still of someone bouncing in his seat and recommends that we reword our direction and say, “Please be sure your bottom is in your chair, your feet are on the floor, and your eyes are on our speaker. We want to be polite listeners for our guest….” The verbal image is of what you DO want to see.

Avoiding Eye Contact

Admit it, when you give directions, you’re either shouting it from across the room, from another room, or are not even really looking at your child. This in turn tells our child that they don’t necessarily have to listen to what we have to say as they haven’t “really been invited to listen yet.” So, stop shouting, crouch down, and make eye contact with your child before proceeding to give directions in a positive manner.

Saying Too Much

According to Amanda, “Young children often have trouble processing multiple steps of instructions given all at once.” So when it seems like your child isn’t following what you say, step back and think about what you said. 

Did you give one direction after another without taking a breath? Limit yourself to giving only one or two instructions at a time in a slow and clear manner, then ask your children to repeat what you said to make sure they understood you.

Not Addressing Him or Her


When you call your child's attention to make a request or reprimand him or her for something, start your sentence off with the child's name. This shows your little one that you are speaking to him or her directly, and is a cue for your child to pay attention to you while you speak.

Being Negative

Changing your tone and words into more positive ones can help you gain your child's cooperation. Instead of saying "Don't do that," try to say "Maybe you should try this," instead.

Your Actions Contradict Your Words

It is heartbreaking for parents to see your children distressed, but try to avoid giving in to the kids while you reprimand them. This shows consistency in what you are saying and doing. Remember that you can hug it out after your point has been made.

Also, make sure that you practice what you preach. If you impose a "no gadgets at the table" rule on your kids, you should also do the same.


It may not be easy, but do your best to keep calm whenever your child misbehaves or disobeys you. Explain the problem in a way that he or she will understand, without resorting to yelling or name calling, which can only aggravate an already tense situation.

Taking On Tantrums Head-on

Common parenting mistakes also include attempting to talk a child down in the middle of a tantrum. If you find it tough to talk to your kid when he or she is calm, being in a tantrum makes him or her a lot more resistant to what you have to say.

Sometimes, allowing your child to ride out the negative emotions is what's best for the both of you. Once he or she has settled down, then you can initiate a talk.

Not Offering Any Choices

When you want your child to do something, it helps to offer him or her choices. Allow the kid to choose what he or she will wear, for example, when it's time to get dressed in the morning. It may be easier to enlist their cooperation when they feel that they have a say in the matter.

Giving Ultimatums Or Unrealistic Consequences

Have you ever told your kids that they will never see a certain toy again because they keep forgetting to put it back in its place? Or have you threatened to ground them for life?

These unrealistic consequences are similar to empty threats. They won't take you seriously unless the kids know that you can actually follow through on what you say.

Not Saying Enough

If you want to be heard than you have to speak up. It can be exasperating to do so, especially after you have had to repeat the same thing more than five times. Instead of constantly repeating yourself, tell your children why you are asking them to do a particular thing.

Not Closing the Discussion

When you are through making your point, be sure that your kids know that it's time for them to take action. Tell them that you will not change your mind about your decision, and get them to start on whatever it is you are asking them to do. Be sure to sound firm and authoritative, without being too harsh.

Failing to Make Them Understand What You Are Saying

When you talk to your child, consider his or her level of comprehension. With smaller kids, it is better to stick to short sentences and remain straight to the point, otherwise you stand to lose against their limited attention spans. Avoid making these parenting mistakes.

Failing to Follow Through

The most common of all parenting mistakes is consistency. We tell our child to use their indoor voice when at home, but are sometimes too tired to reprimand them when they do otherwise. When children pick up that they're able to get away with things, this gives them reason to not listen to you. Therefore, it is important to stick to what we say no matter what. It’s not about being authoritarian, it’s about establishing boundaries that will stick.

Republished with permission from: theAsianparent Philippines


Got a parenting concern? Read articles or ask away and get instant answers on our app. Download theAsianparent Community on iOS or Android now!

Written by

Raisa Tan

app info
get app banner