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How to Get Kids to Listen

Updated on September 23, 2014

The Carrot or the Stick?

Do you ever feel like your kids are controlling you instead of the other way around? Do you scream till your hoarse and have to threaten your kids before they'll mind you?

Getting kids to mind can really be simple if you learn to follow a few basic principles. These ideas are consistency and following through and then motivating your kids to do the rules.

Learn how to make parenting easier and take charge by putting these simple principles into place.


You must be consistent with your kids. It is confusing to them if they are allowed to do something one day and then not the next day.

Think about it. Don't you perform better when you know what is expected of you? How do you react when something is okay to do one day but then is taboo the next day?

How can you be consistent with your kids?

  • Have a clear set of rules and don't change them. Try to limit bending the rules to very special and rare situations. If you do make an exception, explain why and explain that it will go back to normal immediately after this.
  • Make sure the kids understand the rules. Explain what you expect and what will happen if they break the rules.
  • And it is important to make sure that the kids are capable of following the rules. Don't set your expectations too high. You can't expect young kids to act more mature than their age. For example, toddlers aren't going to be able to site perfectly still and quiet.

Learning Resources Time Tracker Visual Timer & Clock, Blue
Learning Resources Time Tracker Visual Timer & Clock, Blue

Have a more effective way of giving time out with this timer.


Time Out Trackers

Time Out Pad - Blue
Time Out Pad - Blue

Time out spot that helps kids refocus.


Quick Tip

Try counting down instead of up when giving your kids a countdown. That way the kids will know what number means business. It will also help you know when to end the count and to take action.

Following Through

The next idea is an extension of having a clear, consistent set of rules. You actually have to enforce the rules. You must follow through and make sure the kids do what you ask or receive the consequences of misbehaving.

If you don't follow through with what you say, your kids will learn that you don't mean it when you say "no." When you say "no" but then end up giving in and letting the kids do it anyway, the message the kids get is that "no" doesn't mean anything.

If you tell the kids not to do something, mean it and stick to it. Say "no" once or twice and make sure the kids hear you. Then if the kids don't listen, do something about it. Enforce the set disciplinary action.

How to Be Firm without Shouting

Reward chart
Reward chart | Source

Motivating Kids to Follow the Rules

Telling kids to behave and then disciplining them for not doing what you say isn't enough to encourage your kids to follow the rules. You will need to motive them to want to do the right thing.

You have to learn what motivates your kids. For some it can be as simple as praise when they do the right thing. For other kids prizes are motivators.

A ticket-based reward system works well with most kids over three years old. Sticker charts and other similar systems are also effective.

If your kids have a reason to act the right way, a clear understand of what you expect, and the knowledge that you will hold them to the rules, good behavior will be easy to achieve.

Do you have a hard to manage child?

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    • profile image

      lesliebyars 4 years ago

      This is a great hub!! I really enjoyed reading it.

    • cocopreme profile image

      Candace Bacon 5 years ago from Far, far away

      roxanne459 - Consistency is key with kids. They need to know what to expect. But it can be difficult to set routines at first. Thank you so much!

      Marcy Goodfleisch - Kids definitely have a knack for instigating power struggles!

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

      I wish I'd had these tips back when my kids were little - we definitely had power struggles and some very frustrating days together! Make that years, actually . . .

    • roxanne459 profile image

      Roxanne Lewis 5 years ago from Washington

      These are wonderful basic, simple solutions to a potentially huge problem. Consistancy isn't easy to do for anyone but it is so important for positive results. Awesome article! Voted up and shared :)