Why Won’t My Kids Listen?

Why Won’t My Kids Listen?

kids not listening
Disappointed little girl covering her ears isolated

Why won’t my kids listen? This is a constant struggle for many parents. Parents bring this particular battle to me time and time again. So, why is that our kids won’t listen? Well, I am here to tell you why! There are reasons behind poor listening, but there are also ways to teach them to become listeners!


It’s not that our kids WON’T listen to us, but rather that they DON’T listen to us. There is a big difference between the two and many contributing factors. The fact that our kids DON’T listen to us is a big red flag. This is signal or sign to us that our kids are CHOOSING to NOT listen. Not listening is a choice and a choice our kids make for good reason. Well, at least from their perspective!


Kids choose not to listen to parents for 2 main reasons.

REASON 1:        It’s a learned behavior

REASON 2:        It works for them

Let’s dive into these reasons a bit further and get to the bottom of it.

REASON 1:        How is not listening a taught and learned behavior? The answer to this is that kids will learn that they get attention from you when they don’t listen. For example: if you ask your child 20 times to put their shoes on each morning, then you are giving them lots of attention. Now, this doesn’t seem like it would work in our child’s favour, but it does. It keeps your focus on them and off anything else. As we continue to remind, nag, remind, it teaches our kids that they don’t need to listen to us or pay attention to what we are asking, because we will ask at least 10 more times. This teaches them to continue to not listen and it will keep you giving them this desired undue attention.

REASON 2:        It works for them because it keeps your focus on them. Kids will only do what works for them and are happy to take any type of attention they can get whether it is positive or negative. Of course positive is better, but if by not listening they are racking up lots of extra mommy or daddy time, they will take it and continue that choice of behaviour.


Not listening is just the symptom to the greater problem. When we witness negative behaviors in our children we need to realize that these behaviours are simply the symptom of the greater problem, not the problem itself. We must dig below the surface to the root of each and every behavior.


To solve problems for good with lasting effects, we need to learn to check off the boxes. What do I mean by this? What I mean is that your child has emotional (power and attentions) and basic (sleep and food) needs that must be met daily. If they aren’t met your child will seek to get them met with the use of negative behaviours. This is their survival tactic! Once we meet basic and emotional needs and learn to proactively check these boxes, we can then dig deeper down to find the root, This is where the real problem lies.


Like we mentioned above, our kids sometimes choose to not listen to us because they are seeking our attention. It’s very important for us to remember that our kids need to feel good in order to do well. This means they want to know they are important and they are being listened to, just as we want them to listen to us. To empower your kids and help them feel their best, try the following tactics:

  • Get down to their eye-level to communicate.
  • Unplug your technology and focus 100% on them.
  • Validate their feelings, by recognizing that they are upset. “I see that you are upset. How can I help you?” 
  • Less words is more. Instead of a long lecture try short, factual phrases. Next time your child doesn’t put their dish away after breakfast, skip the lecture and empty threats. Instead simply state, “plates.” 
  • When they are throwing one of their epic tantrums in full refusal to do something, offer them a simple choice. Let them know that they have control over their lives.

Our kids, just like you, are born with FREE-WILL. They will exert this free-will any way they can in order to gain some power and control over their world. Instead of waiting for epic tantrums and back-talking, set up ways for your child to be more in control of their world. Choice, Choice, Choice!

To learn more about how to meet your child’s basic and emotional needs proactively to avoid negative behaviors– BOOK NOW for a consult. Help your child transition from a child who won’t listen to a child who will and check off the boxes while you do it!




frustrated kids, frustrated parents, hard job, kids, kids not listening, parenting, parenting solutions, Tia Slightham

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