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The Secrets to Raising a Smarter Child
- By Inderbir Sandhu, Ph.D


Child Discipline: Kids Not Listening? Top 10 Tips to Deal With It!

By Cathy Gariety

As parents we have all faced it. The kids are not listening to you without you repeating yourself over and over and it's driving you crazy. You give them chances or count to ten and they still won't listen. Here are some tips to deal with it.

1. Consider Their Age

When I took human development in nursing school I was surprised to learn that children's nervous systems grow at a slow pace. Children simply aren't capable of some of the things we expect out of them. Don't think of them as little adults. That doesn't mean that we can't set limits. On the contrary - as parents, it's one of our responsibilities. But we may have to patiently step in to set those limits physically. Instead of telling them what to do repeatedly, tell them once - then "help" them to do what you asked. This can be done kindly but firmly and consistently.

2. Change Your Behavior

Instead of expecting them to change their behavior, change yours. What you're doing isn't working, right? Consistently being firm over a period of time will let them know what is expected of them. Children are impulsive and may be incapable of putting the brakes on themselves, no matter what we've told them to do. That's where we step in!

3. Listen to Yourself When You Talk to Them.

Are they tuning you out because everything you say is negative? If you were lecturing and yelling at me all day, I would tune out too! It's a natural reaction and unconscious for anyone to discount someone who is negative. Yet as parents, most of the time what we say has a negative tone. "Don't do this, don't do that." Quit talking or yelling so much and take action, balanced with patience, of course.

4. Don't Give Them Repeated Chances

Tell them once instead of counting to three or giving them repeated chances. Think about it - do we really expect them to move before we get to ten? When we reach ten - they know we mean business!

Being firm doesn't mean we have to be cruel or mean when we do it. Having firm limits means that we react consistently to issues when confronted with them. They know what to expect!

5. Try Lowering Your Voice Instead of Raising It!

My father was very good at this........I knew he meant business when he would lower his voice. I listened! Of course he would follow this up with action!

At the very least, the kids would know that something has changed........hmmmmmmm no yelling, that's different!

6. Keep Your Emotions in Check.

The kids are going to push you - it's one of their jobs! They'll see how far they can go and it's your job to set limits.

If you are having a problem with anger, take a deep breath. Go to another room. Ask the help of your partner. You can set up a signal beforehand with your spouse and they'll know to step in.

7. Keep in Touch With Other Parents.

Join a parenting group or online forum to get tips from other parents. Schedule a parents afternoon with friends to discuss issues and get new tips.

8. Set Time Aside for Yourself!

You need to regroup and relax. Read a book, take a bath, play golf. Anything that gives you a break and broadens your experiences.

9. Seek Professional Help.

Get professional help if you frequently get out of control or angry. Anger doesn't help and leaves you feeling guilty and creates further problems.

10. Take Care of Yourself!

Why am I including this here? Because raising a child is work and you need energy to deal with all the issues. Eat right, exercise and have regular checkups. Pretend you're running a marathon because you're in this for the long haul!


Cathy Gariety is a Registered Nurse and researcher specializing in Stress Management. She is in the process of developing programs for hospitals nationwide. Visit her website at

Child Development

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