My Children Don't Listen to me...

5 years ago

Dear sweet children of mine,

Why of why do you insist on not listening me to me when I ask you to do something? Why is that your pre-school teacher can speak and you immediately respond, dutifully? And if not the first time, the second time? Whereas for me, if not the first time, or the second, it takes five or size times for you to respond? Does your teacher have magic powers I don’t know about it? Do I speak in a foreign language that you don’t understand? Oh I wish I knew the answer. Because this is one of the biggest sticklers in our relationship. My asking, you’re not doing. Please get your shoes on for school. Please don’t pick up the baby. Please come to the dinner table. Please clean up the legos on the floor. Please that, please this. Seriously some days all I want to scream is: “HELLO!!! Why aren’t you doing what I asked you to do??? DO IT NOW…please!”

Mommy Orange Rhino


“#1 STOP banging the blocks.” I said kind-of politely from across the room.

Of course, he didn’t stop.

“#1 STOP banging the blocks NOW.” I said a little less politely from across the room.

Of course, he still didn’t stop.

“#1 STOP doing banging the blocks NOW OR ELSE.” I said even less politely from across the room, but now with the kitchen sink running.

Still, no bloody response.

Finally, I turned the sink off. I walked across the room to where #1 sat banging the family room coffee table with heavy wood blocks. I got down to his level, looked him in the eye, and said “#1, please stop banging the blocks on the table. Did you hear what I said? Repeat it back.”

“Please stop banging the blocks.”

“Do you understand? Will you listen?”

“Yes mommy. Okay mommy.”

The banging stopped. FINALLY!

Holy sh*t. It was that easy?! It took me four tries to get the obnoxious banging to stop and if I had just gone over in the first place, made eye contact, and made sure he heard me he would have stopped earlier? What the…!

It is SO simple and SO hard to get kids to listen. So simple if you follow all the basic rules different experts suggest:

1. Walk over to child…don’t try to get them to listen from across the room! (Really, I have to move? I can’t multi-task. Dammit.)

2. Make eye contact by getting to child’s level (Are you kidding me? If I get down, I won’t get up. If I wanted to squat I would go to the gym.)

3. Get attention
 by using child’s name (Seriously? I say his name all day. He doesn’t care. Oh right, that is because I say it too much.)

4. Keep it simple
 (You mean like the days in elementary school when they taught us, K.I.S.S. Keep it Simple Stupid?!)

5. Keep it short (What, my child doesn’t want to listen to a long speech? I haven’t talked to anyone all day, this is my chance!)

6. Have child repeat 
back to confirm comprehension (And what if they get it wrong? Do I have to repeat the above process all over again as another child engages in another activity needing my attention?)

All of the above is great. Really. Except for one thing. All of the above takes a boat load of energy, time, patience and persistence. And on a good day, I am using up all my energy, time, patience and persistence to not yell at them to listen…god forbid I actually use those personal resources to get my kids to listen in the first place so that I don’t want to yell!

I mean really. I know all of the above works, nine out of ten times. No that is being nice. 8 out of 10 times. But yet, I don’t do it. Because it is exhausting having to go over to my children (seriously all the walking back and forth, up and down stairs, in and out of the backyard gets tiresome!) and then having to remember everything I need to do to get them to listen and then having to find the self control to do all the aforementioned things instead of screaming “DO WHAT I SAY NOW…BECAUSE I SAID SO!”  It all adds up to make a day longer and harder.


(Photo courtesy of 

So I recently search for some new ideas, to make the days better, or to at least make me feel like I am doing a better job at trying to get my kids to listen. I've tried these three new ideas. They actually work. Wow. What a concept!

7. Begin requests with “I want” as children naturally want to please. This is working phenomenally. PHENOMENALLY. I hate to admit it because whenever I say “I want” I feel selfish, but they get it.

8. Give Choices I have tried this tactic in the past and it too works well, mostly because my choices are “Do what I want or go to your room.” Hmmm, GREAT OPTIONS MOM. So I changed it up a bit and started giving real options. Much better response.

9. Don’t Bother unless Child is calm. Yeah, that’s a no brainer. If #1 is upset and screaming, guess what, he LITERALLY won’t be able to hear me. So wait.

But I would like to add my own, something I didn’t read anywhere. This is also a no brainer. A true “DUH, mommy, are you an idiot? This is why I don't 'listen' to you!” I realized it this week during an exchange I had with #2.

“#2, please stop doing THAT.”


“Please stop doing THAT.”

“I heard you. What’s THAT?”

“What you’re doing.”

This exchange went on and on. Kind of like the “Who is on 1st” baseball joke.

I finally got it.

#2 didn’t understand what “that” was. Did I want him to stop singing? Stop tapping his toes? Stop throwing all the books out of the bookcase?

I hadn’t been clear. AT ALL.

Rule #10 for how to get my kids to listen: Be PRECISE! Don’t use the words “this, that” or even just saying “Stop.” Add the descriptors. Make it so painfully clear that there is no room for misinterpretation.

Does that mean next time I say “#2, please stop throwing all the books out of the bookcase (because if you don’t mommy is going to friggin’ lose it?!)”

Ah, parenthood. Gotta love it.

The Orange Rhino 

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