4 things parents need to know about getting their kids to pay attention!

Posted in Behaviour and Discipline.

Feel like your child is barely listening to you half the time? Have to repeat yourself five times before your five-year-old puts her shoes on? I feel your pain.

Sometimes, I feel like the invisible woman trying to get my kids to brush their teeth and put their pyjamas on. According to research, this is a sign of the times, with all of us being so busy and trying to jam 48 hours worth of activity into just one day.

The problem is that all of this multitasking means we’re not so attentive ourselves, and with kids being kids, they tend to look at us – and do the same. 

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Today we are busier parents than ever, with many of us multitasking ourselves silly and being constantly interrupted by pings and notifications from our devices. On top of this, many families are so busy with different activities and their own things going on that some of them barely spend time together in the same room.

Recent research is suggesting that constant distractions like these, together with advancements in technology mean that our attention is spread thin and under constant attack. Getting children to listen and follow through with directions has always been challenging but in today’s times, it seems we are struggling more than ever to get our children to really listen to us.

It would be easy to blame too much screen time, given how many children seem to be using different devices these days, but is the answer that simple?

Are we to blame in all of this too?

mum with toddler

1. Connections are important

For starters, it’s impossible to connect with your children if you’re continually trying to do other things or have your mind on tomorrow’s to-do list. Even having your phone turned off is still a distraction because we’re thinking about the messages we might have waiting for us! SO, even if we think we’ve separated from the outside world, we’re still stuck in it somehow. And without connection, it makes it very hard for us to communicate effectively with our kids, and for them to receive what we’re saying. 

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2. Are you sure they’re listening?

There’s no point asking your child to do something if you’re in the middle of cooking and your child is busy watching TV. What’s missing is the engagement part of the communication, apparently – to get your kid to pay attention, you have to make eye contact, ask if your child is listening and then tell them what you want them to do – and then ask them to repeat what you’ve said!

3. Role modelling matters

Your kids are hardly going to be attentive if all they see is you multitasking and half paying attention when you’re having conversations with each other. The other problem with this is you send out the message that your child isn’t quite important enough to drop everything. So, if we want our kids to do the same for us, we have to show them how it’s done.

4. Rules are good

If your child doesn’t respond when you ask them to complete a task, try setting up some family rules, so they have more of an understanding about what’s expected of them. For example, if screen times are taking over, establish some ground rules for when screens are okay and not okay. Having set homework times and a routine for before and after school can also help your child develop an inbuilt understanding of how things go, which hopefully means fewer directions and reminders are needed from you.


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