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How To Get Kids to Listen the First Time

Ever wonder how in the world parents get kids to listen . . . at all, let alone the first time? These three simple tips will help you repeat yourself less.

Want strategies that get kids to listen the first time? Remember these three simple tips when you speak and you'll be repeating yourself less. Yes!


Here’s the secret . . .

It’s not really about them!

Getting kids to listen is more about you – about me – than it is about them.

Maybe that’s not what you wanted to hear, but it’s true.


And really, we all know they can hear perfectly well when they want to, right?

Ever sat in the front seat of a 12 passenger van and asked your husband a question under your breath only to have the child in the far back seat pipe up with the answer?

Clearly, not a hearing problem!


The real question then, is:

What can we as parents do to help them pay attention?

To want to listen.

Now, I don’t consider myself a parenting expert by any stretch of the imagination – more like a parent in training. And nothing is 100% foolproof. But experience has shown me that when I remember to practice these three things, first time listening definitely goes up.


3 Simple Tricks That Get Kids To Listen the First Time



No one wants to listen to a raving lunatic! Not fond of the unflattering description? Me either, but that’s probably what I sound like to my kids sometimes. Kids tune out ranting. So do what’s necessary to settle yourself before you start to speak.

The ever popular “count to 10” doesn’t work for me . . . I just grit my teeth harder and build up more steam with each number. What does help is a couple slow, deep breaths. In through the nose, out through the mouth – nice and steady. And smiling. Or saying, “I love you.” What? Sure, I do not feel like doing those things. But they are small, practical “fake it ’til you make it” strategies that remind me to treat the child I’m addressing with kindness and respect.



If my kids don’t see me, my words are probably just a figment of their imagination! Effective communication takes place face to face. Don’t talk to closed doors or shout instructions up the stair and around corners. If you haven’t tried this yet, don’t bother. Take it from me –  it’s not worth wasting your breath.

You don’t always have to go to where they are – though I do recommend making that effort sometimes. Teach your kids to listen for their name. When they hear it, that’s their signal to stop what they’re doing, make an affirmative verbal acknowledgement and come find you. Once they’re in the same room with you . . . wait for them to actually look at you . . . then hand out instructions, share your wisdom or just remind them you love them.



Have you seen the meme about not yelling ’cause whispering is scarier? Its kind of funny, but I’ve decided I don’t like it. One, I’m not trying to “freak my kids out” as they say – I just want them to hear what I’m saying. And two, anytime I whisper they just look at me weird and say, “What, what’d you say mom? Why are you whispering?”

Getting quiet is as much about tone as volume. Tone is the attitude behind our words. It comes across in facial expression and pitch as well as volume. Proverbs 16:24 reminds us that pleasant words are sweet to the soul. My kids are much more inclined to hear me out when my tone conveys a gentle attitude. Setting my volume a notch below normal also helps keep my voice inviting.


The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, but the mouth of fools spouts folly.

Proverbs 15:2


Don’t fall into the trap of “spouting folly” when trying to get kids to listen. Try these three tricks and see what kind of difference they make.

But remember, I can’t make any promises about what your kids will choose to do once they’ve heard you. You may still have issues of obedience or respect to address. These tips are about you doing your part to “make knowledge acceptable.”

If you want kids to hear you, make listening to you as pleasant as possible.


If you want your kids to hear you,then make listening to you as pleasant as possible.


Any other tips you’d offer that get kids to listen?


Shared at: Savoring SaturdayTuesday TalkNourishing JoyGrace & TruthThoughtful Thursday, SHINE Blog Hop, Coffee & Conversation,


  1. Well, my kids are all grown up. I sure could’ve used this wisdom back in the day! Thank God for His grace, mercy, and forgiveness! However I can use these tips with grandkids.🙂 And it kind of works with a puppy, too. 🐶

  2. thx a lot for this post, i have been doing it all wrong and feel guilty & sad at the end of it all because i love my children so much, but some times due to my many problems and frustrations i yell at the a lot. thx i’m going to try my best now & let u know! God bless you

    • So glad my words have encouraged you. We all get it wrong sometimes, but God is gracious and ready to forgive. May you trust His strength as you work on changing old habits into new ways.

  3. This is so great, Abi! Just what I needed to read this morning. Thanks for sharing! <3

  4. RecipestoNourish says:

    This is so true Abi. Thank you for sharing this. It’s a wonderful reminder to us paretns. Thank you for sharing this with us at Savoring Saturdays linky party. Hope you’lll join us again.

  5. Abi, this is such great wisdom. I love this: “Fake it ’til you make it!” Thanks for making us stop and think that the problem’s not all with our kids, it’s with us! Communication is a two way street.

    Another tip I like is not to nag, rant, repeat yourself over and over. I’d tune out someone who did that to me, wouldn’t you? But as moms, we tend to repeat ourselves.

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Betsy. Communication really is a two way street – it’s our job to make our words as acceptable as we can. Definitely not always easy to remember to hold them accountable for what we said once rather than get into the habit of nagging which doesn’t help anyone!

  6. You’re right – yelling commands usually doesn’t work. I like your 3 short, simple, direct tips for this, and girl, I LOVE that goat graphic. Just read this a second time (first time you posted in MTO, second from Tuesday Talk – thank you for joining us, btw)! Featuring this week on my blog for Tuesday Talk – be sure to come back, friend! You have great wisdom! 🙂

    • It makes me so happy that you like the goat graphic, Ruthie. I thought they were fun but wasn’t sure how they’d go over! Thanks for reading twice! I appreciate your encouragement and wisdom too, my friend. Enjoy all the fun (and dare I say craziness) this week holds for you and your family.

  7. This is great! I know from experience that my kids listen best when we’re looking each other in the eyes. Mine are little so sometimes I put out my hands and have them put their hands on top of mine so they can focus on my words instead of fidgeting all over the place. I need to work on some of the other things you mentioned – they sound like great tips. I think your last line is the best by the way! I’ll be featuring this next week for Tuesday Talk and sharing on Pinterest and Facebook over the next week too. Thanks for sharing this with us! -Jessica, Sweet Little Ones

  8. mmstreeter1 says:

    Great tips offered here. Sharing this as a feature post on next week’s Tuesday Talk. Hope you join us again next week.

  9. These are truly words of wisdom. I so needed this. It starts with me. I am the example and I set the tone. I will use the versus also as my prayers. God’s word never returns void! Praise God!

  10. We are having some issues in this area and so I will be trying out these steps! I try very hard to stay calm, but I think getting close to my daughter will help. Thanks for sharing!

  11. I love these tips, Abi. They’re so perfectly simple to do, but I bet they have such a greater impact! Getting kids to listen is a challenge at times, but with these tips, it’ll be easier to implement the habit. Thanks so much for sharing this on #SHINEbloghop!

  12. Getting quiet definitely helps here. Another one I do with my almost 4yr old is have her stand right in front of me and I hold her hands. She never sits still and her hands are always moving, distracting her. If I hold her hands, she almost always looks me in the eyes and listens. #ShineBlogHop

    • Yes! That’s a great trick, Julie. I use it with my wigglers too. The physical touch really seems to help direct their attention.


  1. […] ~Abi from Joy in My Kitchen, 3 Simple Tricks for getting kids to listen the first time […]

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