Getting Kids to Listen – Part 1

Parenting tips on getting kids to listen.

by Michelle Donaghey

Amy Stouder knows that she shouldn’t yell at her kids to get their attention, but sometimes it just comes out.
"When I am stressed, I guess I can’t help myself. I get frustrated and I yell, "says Amy, a parent of three young children who is also a part-time at-home caregiver for her children and others. 
Taking a deep breath and walking away and then coming up with the right words spoken in a quieter tone of voice works much better during these times she notes, adding she is "only human, just like other people, about the occasional outburst of shouting that she hopes will grab their attention. 
Getting a child to listen is a lot more work and takes more effort than venting out our frustrations, but it is well worth the effort and everyone can learn to do it say experts including an author, the US Department of the Health and Human Services, National Mental Health information Center, family counselor and two nannies.
When a parent yells to get their child to listen, many people think that they are rightfully doing so. What if a child is screaming in the cereal aisle asking for her favorite cereal, or in another instance, a child is yelling and slapping his brother in church? The truth is shouting is a mistake in getting children to listen. By not screaming and shouting you can often get the behavior you are looking for, say experienced nannies.

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"Stay calm. If you are calm and reason with children on their own level, most times this is effective because the child will actually listen to you. Having someone calmly explaining the situation and consequences of the child’s actions also seems to work. There isn’t the loss of control on either part..but sometimes when the shouting starts as with older children, it end up being the child and parent both losing control and then no one really gets heard and nothing gets solved,: says Jill E. Snead, a Nanny Counselor with Nanny On The Net.
"I think it is a parent or caregiver’s first instinct to yell. But I remind myself how much I hate to be yelled at and I try really hard not to do the same to others. Even though yelling might get their attention initially, in the long run I don’t believe it encourages any kind of positive behavior and it just makes them think it’s ok for them to yess also," adds Elise Schiellack, a nanny with A New England Nanny in Albany, New York who thinks children can drown out the yelling if it becomes habit. "They get so used to their parents screaming that they don’t pay attention to what they’re actually getting yelled at for," says Elise.  



Michelle Donaghey is a freelance writer and mother of two boys, Chris and Patrick, who are her inspiration. She lives in Bremen, Indiana just south of South Bend, home of Notre Dame. When she isn’t writing, Michelle can be found in her perennial flower garden or working on small home improvement projects. Michelle has written for parenting publications including Metro Kids, Atlanta Parent,Dallas Child, Great Lakes Family, Family Times and Space Coast Parent and websites including

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