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How to Deal with Children Who Do Not Listen - Parenting Advice


Understanding our Children

Being a parent isn’t always easy, but being a child isn’t easy either. Two of the biggest problems among children and parents are the ability to listen and understand one another. Let’s face it, we do not always get our children and they do not always get us!

So what can we do to improve the understanding between our children and ourselves?

I am a single mother with a 7-year-old daughter. Over the years I have had my share of problems and questions which has made me do a lot of research on the subject of parenting. I got to the point where I thought I was just not a good parent, because my child would not listen to me. Come to find out, the problem was occurring so often because I wasn’t listening to her.

Listening to your child


Even as babies our children give us signals of what they want or need. A baby will have a unique cry if they are wet, hungry, thirsty or tired. We learn to differentiate their cries. We often get so good at it; we will get out the diaper and wipes before we enter their room knowing that they need to be changed. As they get older, a lot of us tend to listen less. We feel as though they are more able to communicate, so it should be easier for us to understand what they need. This is not always true. Even if your child is talking, they may not comprehend how to fully express their emotions in words, therefore they will cry, throw a fit, hit etc.

Let’s look at a couple of examples:

It is bath time. Every time you turn on the tub to give your child a bath, they start throwing a fit. You want to find a solution to this problem, and telling them JUST DO IT is not working, nor is it going to solve anything. Not only are you still frustrated, but they are still frustrated as well. This behavior will continue until you find out the reason why they hate taking a bath. We need to speak to them with comfort, compassion and understanding.

You can try by saying something like this:

I know that you do not like bath time, but it is very important that you stay clean so your body stays healthy. Do you have any ideas on how we can make bath time better for you?

What is the difference between DO IT NOW and what I just said? For one, they appreciate the fact that you are listening to them, and understand that they do not like taking baths. Number two, you will be giving them a good reason as to why they need to take a bath. And number three, you are letting them come up with their own solution, which will allow them to express what they like and do not like. They might respond with something as simple as this: I don’t like to take a bath because the water is always cold. Maybe if the water were warmer I would like it more.



I believe that our children should be held responsible for their actions. If they misbehave then they need to receive a punishment accordingly. But giving time outs and taking away her favorite toy never seemed to work for me. It never accomplished anything. I could not understand why I was not able to use punishment as an effective way of discipline. What it boils down to is misunderstanding. Using these simple methods reduces stress in both child and parent, and allows for easier communication and understanding.

Before I learned these techniques, if my child did something wrong, my first response was to say, that’s it, your punished and I would take away a privilege or something that she really liked. Most of the time this just made her more angry and I would get to the point where I just wanted to pull my hair out. The more I said she was punished the louder she would yell. The louder she would yell the more days I would tell her that she was punished. I think one time I got up to almost 2 months worth of punishment before I actually broke down and cried. What was I doing wrong? Why did she care so little about being punished? I realized that by just punishing her, the core of the issue was not being resolved, so she was still angry. So even if I punished her for a year and a half, the fact remained that she was not able to efficiently explain why she was so upset she just knew she was and by me getting so angry I just added fuel to the fire. Slow down a little and try to understand the reason why your child may be upset or angry.


When child does not want to accept NO

My daughter loves to slams doors when I tell her that she cannot do something she wants to do. So thankfully I have changed my ways, and this is how it now goes:

She says: Mommy; can I go to my friend’s house to swim today?

I say: Sorry, you cant today we have other plans.

She says: But mommy please. I really want to go.

I say: No not today, we have other plans.

Door slams. I go to her room door.

I say: You know I don’t like it when you slam doors, slamming doors isn’t very nice.

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She says: Leave me alone.

I say: Ok, but when you are no longer angry, please come in here.

A couple of minutes later she will walk out with her mad face.

She says: It’s not fair, I never get to do anything.

I say: I understand you are frustrated and want to go swimming, but we already made plans to go to grandma’s house, and she would be very upset if you didn’t come. I know grandma’s house isn’t as fun as swimming, but I will let you make plans for next weekend if you want.

9 times out of 10 she will walk away without saying anything. Then 10 minutes later I will receive a note from her.

The note from her says: I am sorry mommy that I slammed the door and got mad. I just wanted to go swimming. I love you.

By letting her know that I was upset about slamming the door, but not getting angry she was able to calm herself down. I wasn’t adding fuel to the fire. Her telling me "leave me alone" was a signal for me, letting me know that she needed a few minutes to think. Children need to get in touch with their emotions and giving them time to think about why they are doing what they are doing helps them understand themselves a little better. And by giving her a choice of what she wanted to do next weekend, she realized that her feelings are important to me and what she says matters.


Choose Your Battles

It has gotten to the point now where punishment isn’t really necessary, which is great. It is very hard to control our frustrations and it takes a lot of practice. I still mess up once in a while and yell first, but I quickly tell her I am sorry for yelling and start trying to understand the reason why she is upset. It will take patience on your part, but you can get there. Of course there are going to be times when you can’t figure it out. Times where they do NOT want to hear nor do they care what you are saying. They just might be having a bad day or are not feeling well. They are only human after all. Do not let an occasional misbehavior episode bring you back to square one.

And remember it is always wise to choose your battles. Everything does not have to turn into a fight. We do not become parents to have power or control. We become parents to show love, teach them right from wrong and show them how to express themselves correctly to prepare them for the future. They do not stay young forever, so enjoy it while it lasts. Happy parenting!


Pratisha from Ahmedabad on October 17, 2014:

Yes Jean you are perfectly right. Excellent read.

1.Every individual adult or a child needs to vent off his anger. And not reacting is extremely sensible on your part.

2. Punishment creates an ill feeling. Ignoring is the right thing to do as you say.


Jennifer Bates (author) from West Palm Beach on March 27, 2013:

Thanks rain. It is important to listen to them, but it can be hard to do at times. Patience with yourself in adapting is also needed!! : )

Elizabeth from ATLANTA,Ga on March 27, 2013:

This is a great hub,I often struggle with my child on basic everyday things and grooming. It gets to be frustrating but listening to them is a great way to make them feel important.

Jennifer Bates (author) from West Palm Beach on October 12, 2010:

Your Welcome NC. And yes it can be really hard. I still find myself getting frustrated at times.But you do see a big change in behavior when used.

NCBIer on October 11, 2010:

Great hub! Your perspective is very similar to another parenting style I've been reading about lately. I have been trying to implement this type of parenting and it isn't quite as easy as I thought it would be. I am shorter on patience than I would like to be. So far though, the results are completely worth the effort. Thank you for writing this!

Jennifer Bates (author) from West Palm Beach on October 08, 2010:

Thanks milenaamr. I am happy you like the article.

milenaamr on October 08, 2010:

Nice article. You describe real life and real problems. Thanks for the advice it is true we need to listen.

Jennifer Bates (author) from West Palm Beach on July 06, 2010:

Thanks prasetio. Children can be hard to manage, but if we listen to them and let them speak their mind it becomes much easier. Thanks for the greetings.

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on June 25, 2010:

As a teacher, I often met kind of kids like your children. It look hard to manage them. But be patience and try to more close with them. Give them more attention and sometimes punishment didn't worked for them. As a parent you have to show your authority. Sometimes tell them about some story, any kind of story which contain education and the kids will obey the parents. Thumbs up and I hope the best for them. Send my warm greeting to your kids. I believe they will listen to you.


Jennifer Bates (author) from West Palm Beach on June 24, 2010:

Thank you Green tea. They feel so grown up when we give them choices!

green tea-cher on June 24, 2010:

Great Hub, Jenn! I like your points to recognize that the child is upset, but guide her as to how it is acceptable to express herself. Also giving her choices and letting her help make a decision. It's all good. Very helpful.

Jennifer Bates (author) from West Palm Beach on June 24, 2010:

Thank you for your comment Spiritual coach. I agree. Sometimes giving them time apart is not enough and letting them know we understand their felling is important!

thespiritualcoach on June 24, 2010:

I appreciate the perspective you offer about giving the child space to feel what they are feeling while still honoring your own feelings and what is important. I have also found that listening attentively is helpful (in other words, repeating back to them what they really wanted to do, in this case repeating back to her "You really wanted to go swimming today and you are upset that you can't.") That helps with my daughter when our time apart isn't enough to calm her down.

Jennifer Bates (author) from West Palm Beach on June 24, 2010:

Thanks sarovai. Yes true negative words will affect it as well.

sarovai on June 24, 2010:

hello, great article with your own experience. But using negative words also affects the relationship.

Jennifer Bates (author) from West Palm Beach on June 23, 2010:

Thank you so much Donna for your comment. That's true, my mom and I get along great!

Donna Wallace from North Carolina on June 23, 2010:

This is a great hub! Girls can be hard on their moms, but listening works wonders. They're going to grow up to be our best friends!

Jennifer Bates (author) from West Palm Beach on June 22, 2010:

Thank you WildIris. It has taken me some time to get the hang of it, but I can see a big improvement!

WildIris on June 22, 2010:

Such a wise Hub! I've found the "I'm going to take away...." doesn't work at all with kids. Your an approach to guiding communication is far more effective. Kids want you to listen will all of your attention, eye-to-eye.

Jennifer Bates (author) from West Palm Beach on June 20, 2010:

Thank you for your comment Pollyanna. Kids have suck personality!

Pollyannalana from US on June 20, 2010:

I brought up two of the sweetest most mannerly kids in the world. My son still is and polite and nice, raising his son the same. My daughter is someone I don't know and her kids are brats. Go figure. Great hub.

Jennifer Bates (author) from West Palm Beach on June 20, 2010:

Thank you for your comments! Yes my child is stubborn as well. Some are easy to talk to while with others it takes a lot of patience and persistence. But it is worth it. I am happy to say that I am learning a lot and understanding what it takes to understand her!

Polly C from UK on June 20, 2010:

Great article and so true - children deserved to be listened to just as much as adults. My older son is the most stubborn person in the world - if he has made up his mind about something it is virtually impossible to get him to change his mind, even with the threat of a consequence.

You make good points about giving your child a certain element of control, as in letting your daughter plan the next weekend. Sometimes children just want to assert their independence and feel as though they have some input into their world. My younger son is quite easy to get on board by offering some choices, even if he has put up a refusal at first. If he won't eat his dinner, which has become something of a recurrence recently, I start with this game I made up, where we 'catch' the carrots or whatever - 'which one do you want to catch first?' He chooses one and we 'chase' it with the fork, after it has 'tried to run away'. In no time at all he has finished. And we're both happy!

Anyway, thanks for an interesting read.

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