How Do I Get My Child to Listen to Me?


A very common complaint that comes up from parents is that their child just doesn’t listen. “How do I get my child to listen to me?”

Take parents of small children. You have told your child many times to pick up his toys, or to wipe his hands on a napkin not his shirt, or to please not grab the toy from his younger sister’s hands. You’ve said this many times. So, why is it still happening?

With teenagers, parents have been trying to explain why they shouldn’t do things, or why they should. You are asking your teen to clean her room, or explaining why a specific friend isn’t the best influence. Or maybe you are asking simply that homework is done before TV. You are doing what is best for your child, simply trying to help your child do better in life. So why is she still not listening to you? Why is there argument after argument?

Likely you are getting frustrated at this point. Some parents will start yelling, getting angry or start penalizing now, to make a point. Hoping that this point will be gotten and behavior will change. Does it always work?

Let’s take a young boy who runs through the living room in muddy shoes. The first time it happens, you may sigh, have him look at the mud, explain why he shouldn’t do it, and then go to clean it up. The second time it happens, you are bound to say “Didn’t I tell you not to run through here with your shoes??” get a little frustrated, maybe bang around a bit while you clean up. The third time… well, that is just enough, and your son has to sit in his room for an hour (or whatever the penalty may be).

Let’s look at what L. Ron Hubbard says about this:

“When an individual attempts to control something and fails to do so, he then experiences an antipathy toward that thing. In other words, he has not been right. He has been wrong. His intention has failed. His intention has, you might say, backfired upon him. Thus as one attempts to control things and then fails to control them, he is likely to drop down Tone Scale about those things.” – LRH, Problems of Work

Okay, so that explains what may happen to a parent during this time. Well, what is the solution? In this same chapter, just a little after the above quote, he says:

“If one really communicates and communicates well to these people – listens to what they have to say and acknowledges what they say and says what he has to say to them, gently enough and often enough so that it is actually received by them – he will regain, to a very marked degree, his ability to associate and coordinate the actions of those people with whom he is immediately surrounded.”– LRH, Problems of Work

So let’s really look at this point. Does it take patience? Absolutely. Does it work? You bet. It has worked every time we have applied it here at Mojave Academy. It has worked for each parent that I have seen through this, as long as they applied it. It worked for me when I raised my kids.

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The earlier you start with this, the better. Starting this out with young children is quite easy. They do pick things up fast, and your patience and caring will reflect in the way they treat you. Remember the “listening” part. Ask them why they do what they are doing and listen and understand and acknowledge it. Don’t include a “but” in any acknowledgement. Just simply go over what you need and why and how this helps. Then be willing to go through the cycle again later.

If your child is a teen and the point you want to handle has been ongoing for five years, you can bet that you will be having to use that patience to the extreme, and it won’t likely change as fast as you like. But stick through it. You’ll win and so will they!

Yours for a better future,

Cheri Hall, Executive Director of Mojave Academy

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