How do I get my kid to listen?

How do I get my kid to listen?

How do I get my kid to listen?

By: Meghan Lederman, R.P., M.A.

I get asked this question a lot.  As a psychotherapist who works with children, parents want to know the answer to this million dollar question.  This question usually means, “how do I get my kid to do what I ask?” – FYI.  While I don’t have any magic up my sleeve, parents have had some success with the following ideas.

  1.  Have respectful communication

Try talking to your child at or below their eye level.  Use voice tone and volume that conveys respect.  Be present with them (i.e. they are less likely to listen if you yell from another room).

2.  Be concise

Be direct, and use as few words as possible to deliver the message.  You may consider breaking down the task into short steps.  Your child may hear and understand the first or last item on your list, but forget those in between.

3.  Use visuals

Write it down.  Show an activity schedule ( has some great examples).  Give tangible examples of what you expect.

4.  “When/Then”

“When you take the garbage out, then you can play video games”.  “When you finish your homework, then you can go outside”.  Try to stick with this phrasing, and again – keep it concise.

5.  Acknowledge a job well done

This can be done tangibly, for example, an allowance; but this isn’t necessary, and many kids do not respond to this on an ongoing basis.  Let your child know that you are pleased with them.  Give them positive feedback.  High fives, hair ruffles, or even a simple thank you can go a long way.


A few resources I like (these are old ones, but still relevant for this questions):

  • “Kids are Worth it” by Barbara Coloroso
  • “How to talk so kids will listen & listen so kids will talk” by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish

Let me know how you make out in the comments.  What works for you?


Meghan Lederman is a Registered Psychotherapist practising in Welland, ON.  She has 15+ years experience in children’s mental health and works with children, teens and young adults.  To reach her, email



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