Selective hearing?

Are your kids zoning you out? Only hearing what they want not what you actually say?


Today I received a comment from a mum who is taking my 5 day mini course to better communication at home. She liked the lesson but struggled with what she named as ‘selective hearing’ from her kids.

I really wanted to address this in order to ensure the 5 day mini course is providing the transformational effects on your communication with your kids that it was designed to.

So , first of all lets look at some reasons why your children might suffer from ‘selective hearing’.

  • You are saying too much – Kids will zone out and stop listening if you’re being boring. I know that sounds frank and blunt , but really , if you’re in the habit of rambling on , you need to curb that.

    You need to use directional , short and snappy sentences that don’t require much concentration from your children.

    If you have a list of jobs you want your child to fulfil deliver them one at a time.

  1. ‘Please ,tidy your room now’ – and only when they’ve finished say the next job ,

  2. ‘Now,do your homework please’ and when you’ve checked their homework then you can say

  3. ‘ok, please set the table’

    Instead of , – ‘your room is a mess you need to tidy up everything where it belongs and don’t forget to hoover the floor , there is always tiny bits of lego left there and I don’t want your little brother picking them up , you know that’s a choking hazard , when your done don’t forget its Sunday and you still need to do your homework before school tomorrow , I’m starting the dinner so I’ll need you to set the table soon too’

I’m sure you can notice how much easier it would be to respond in the first instance , right?

  • Your child is focused on something else – There is a lot of benefit for both you and your child when they are deeply immersed in their play , see my video post on independent play here. Normally , I recommend respecting their play and not disturbing them , but if you need them to listen to something important – see my tips below .

  • You are speaking to him while you are doing something else – when you are not fully focusing yourself , your child will follow your lead. If you want your child to fully listen , you need to be fully engaging . It is extremely important that you also model good listening skills for your child. When they speak to you , give them your full attention – and they will return the favour!

  • You are criticising – If your spouse or partner was highly critical towards you , pretty soon you’d stop listening , just to protect yourself. It’s quite likely you’d avoid talking to them about yourself and the inner workings of your soul – is that how you want your children to approach interaction with you? So if you like me , want for your children to willingly come to you with the big stuff, you have to listen just as intently to all the little stuff – openly , and without judgement or criticism.

    Let’s flip this again , imagine , your friend hangs on your every word. They openly express how much they love conversations with you, because, everything you say is so in tune with who they are they feel completely validated in your presence .When they chat to you , you feel compelled to listen , the two of you are just so completely on the same page . Now imagine , one day , this friend shakes their head and says ‘ um no , I don’t really see it that way , for me it’s more like …’ . You’ll be intrigued to hear their opinion , because you’ve come to value their input so highly. It’s likely their differing belief will swim around in your head for a while , and you may even alter your behaviour slightly, because what they said made so much sense , you’ve given it thought and come to your own conclusion ,that they are right. If you didnt hold this friend in such a high regard , you might have rejected their opinion right away , even tried to argue why you are completely right.

    Our relationship with our children is the same as a relationship with anybody else. You can be critical like in the first example , and they will zone you out after a while – it’s human nature. Or you can build up a strong connection , you can set up mutual respect for each other through your words and actions.

  • You are not following your words with action – Are you following through? When you say you will do something , do you do it? Pretty soon , if you’re consistently saying one thing but doing the opposite , your child will stop listening and taking you seriously.

So now that you know some reasons why a child might not listen, how do you get them to pay attention to what you are saying? Try some of these strategies for nurturing good listening skills and sign up here for my free 5 day mini course , to learn how to speak in a way , that your children truly WANT to listen.

  • Eye Contact Get down to your child’s level and ask them to look directly at you while you are speaking to each other. This is a way to, both, make sure you have your child’s full attention and also, to teach your child good manners and to listen in a respectful way when someone is speaking to them.

  • Model good listening As with other behaviors, your child will learn how to listen by following the example you set.

  • Try to find out why Consider what may be causing them to zone you out , instead of just dismissing it as them not being respectful or purposefully ignoring you.

  • Keep your cool.As exasperating as it may be when your child does not listen, try to stay calm and refrain from shouting or speaking in an angry tone. Here’s why:

  1. When you get angry, you are showing your child that you are not in control

  2. While shouting might get you results in the short-term, it will eventually lose its effectiveness over time.(the boy who cried wolf)

  • Explain that it’s not respectful.Teach your child that not listening or ignoring someone when they’re talking to you is not a nice way to treat people.

  • Be Playful.Change the dynamic of your interactions by lightening things up a bit. E.g if you are frustrated by your child dawdling make it a game , use timers to see who can win a race to the door .Use your imagination to encourage their cooperation instead of making demands.

Don’t expect results overnight.Building good comunication habits in your home is an ongoing process. Instead of expecting your child to always obey you the first time you say something, look at the development of their listening skills as part of building an important foundation that will help you and your child develop a strong relationship for years to come.

If you’d like actionable tips on how to build better communication in your home, and. speak with more influence please sign up for my 5 day FREE mini course – 5 days to better communication.

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