It seemed every day, beginning at the time my daughter was two years old, my vernacular would be filled with more points of repeat than resolve. “My child will not listen,” I’d say to the other frazzled and frustrated mommies in our weekly play group. Sadly, we shared the same angst and a few of the other mom’s who also had older children, didn’t shed a any glimmer of light or hope when saying that their older children didn’t listen.

teen attitude

My reassurance was the solace in discovering that the problem was not with my child not listening, but rather, not understanding how to talk with my child, not at my child.

Ugh. I could not fathom that I had been THAT kind of child for my parents… and certainly, I knew I was the ONLY one who had a child who didn’t listen at all. My reassurance was the solace in discovering that the problem was not with my child not listening, but rather, not understanding how to talk with my child, not at my child. I learned some very valuable insight that transformed our daily grind of rants and reminders with actual conversation and surprisingly, calm. If your child will not listen, try these pointers as listed by the American Psychological Association.

Be available for your children

  • Notice times when your kids are most likely to talk — for example, at bedtime, before dinner, in the car — and be available.
  • Start the conversation; it lets your kids know you care about what’s happening in their lives.
  • Find time each week for a one-on-one activity with each child, and avoid scheduling other activities during that time.
  • Learn about your children’s interests — for example, favorite music and activities — and show interest in them.
  • Initiate conversations by sharing what you have been thinking about rather than beginning a conversation with a question.

Let your kids know you are listening

  • When your children are talking about concerns, stop whatever you are doing and listen.
  • Express interest in what they are saying without being intrusive.
  • Listen to their point of view, even if it’s difficult to hear.
  • Let them complete their point before you respond.
  • Repeat what you heard them say to ensure that you understand them correctly.

Related read: 3 Tips to Tame Little Miss Sassy Pants

Respond in a way your children will hear

  • Soften strong reactions; kids will tune you out if you appear angry or defensive.
  • Express your opinion without putting down theirs; acknowledge that it’s okay to disagree.
  • Resist arguing about who is right. Instead say, “I know you disagree with me, but this is what I think.”
  • Focus on your child’s feelings rather than your own during your conversation.


  • Ask your children what they may want or need from you in a conversation, such as advice, simply listening, help in dealing with feelings or help solving a problem.
  • Kids learn by imitating. Most often, they will follow your lead in how they deal with anger, solve problems and work through difficult feelings.
  • Talk to your children — don’t lecture, criticize, threaten or say hurtful things.
  • Kids learn from their own choices. As long as the consequences are not dangerous, don’t feel you have to step in.
  • Realize your children may test you by telling you a small part of what is bothering them. Listen carefully to what they say, encourage them to talk and they may share the rest of the story.

Parenting is hard work

  • Listening and talking is the key to a healthy connection between you and your children. But parenting is hard work and maintaining a good connection with teens can be challenging, especially since parents are dealing with many other pressures. If you are having problems over an extended period of time, you might want to consider consulting with a mental health professional to find out how they can help. (source: you have a great idea to share that has helped your child listen? We would love to hear from you and possibly, share your story. Visit and to stay up-to-date on topics, tips and articles written especially for parents. We welcome you to share, repost and re-tweet our news, ideas and stories in your social network.

Special thanks to:
Molly Brunk, PhD, Center for Public Policy, Virginia Commonwealth University
Jana Martin, PhD, Psychology Regional Network, Los Angeles, California
Nancy Molitor, PhD, Northwestern Health Care, Evanston, Illinois
Janis Sanchez-Hucles, PhD, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia