7 Ways to get your kids to listen

Feb 14, 2014 at 3:59 a.m. ET

You talk and get no response. What is going on? Have you become invisible? It certainly feels that way some days. If you struggle with this, as many moms do, here's a foolproof system to get your kids to listen to you.

mother talking to son

Photo credit: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

This is a simple, easy-to-remember formula. I think of it as the ASK system.

  • A is for Attention. Get their attention by using their name. You may need to remove distractions by turning off the television or asking them to stop what they're doing.
  • S is for Staying on point. Keep to the point and don't let your child get you off topic.
  • K is for asking for Konfirmation. (Yes, I know that's not how it's spelled, but the sound is the same.) Ask for confirmation by getting them to repeat the message back to you.

Now that you have the simple ASK system for getting your message across, what do you do if they just don't want to comply? Here are a few tips for coaxing kids into compliance.

Give them a choice. For example, say, "You can come to the dinner table now, or you can sit in the corner for five minutes. It's your choice."

Give them fair warning. For example, say, "We will be leaving in five minutes" or 'If you throw that toy again, I will take it away."

Use the "when... then" approach. For example, say, "When you've brushed your teeth, then I'll read you a story."

Create rhyming rules. These are easy to remember and less confrontational, and kids like them. At our place, reading glasses have to be "in the case or on your face."

Be positive. Rather than telling the child what you don't want, tell him or her what you do want. For example, say, "Please take your shoes off" instead of "No shoes in the house."

Consider natural consequences. When my daughter refuses to get dressed, I just shrug and tell her she can go to school in her pajamas. It's her choice.

The golden rule, and you've probably heard this before, is to follow through on any stated consequences. If you say she's going to school in her pajamas, then she's going in her pajamas. You can always pack school clothes for her to change into later.