Here are 2 simple reasons why:
1. Listening is Difficult for Children
One of the major reasons why children do not listen and are non-compliant and is because listening is not easy.
Children have a hard time listening. Adults who have to sit in long meetings and lectures can commiserate. It takes a lot of concentration and energy to listen. Listening requires quiet and an ability to attend to your surroundings and to discern the important messages that are being conveyed. It’s easier for children to listen when the message pertains to them, which is not always the case
Sometimes children have been listening the whole day at school and when they come home they are tired. Often they are immersed in pretend play, reading, video games or TV and they truly don’t hear their parents.
What we perceive as non-compliant or strong-willed behavior can also just be a child struggling to listen. Children with auditory processing issues and other language disorders have a harder time than other children but modifications to the home or classroom can improve their listening skills. Strategies like those listed here can help:
• Develop routines for the morning, afternoon and bedtime.
• Before speaking, first gain the child’s attention and then give directions.
• Speak slowly and clearly by using words that make sequence clear such as “first,” “next,” and “finally.”
It is important to remember that children usually want to do the right thing. They need their parent’s love and, even more so, their approval. If children are not listening it is probably because they truly can’t.
2. Children Need Independence
Children, like all human beings, possess a strong desire for independence. It is actually a basic human need. Being independent makes us feel that we have some control over our decisions and our fate. We are empowered by knowing that we can think for ourselves, take care of ourselves, and rely on ourselves to survive in this world. Independence is the foundation for self-respect and belief in one’s self.
Children are often torn between wanting their parents to take care of them and needing to feel independent. They are confused. When their parents ask them to do something and they need to comply, they are also battling their inner voice which might be telling them:
“You don’t need to listen to anyone. You are your own boss. You can do your own thing!”
The resulting defiance and non-compliance can be an outgrowth of this internal psychological struggle of wanting to listen to their parents but also needing to assert their autonomy.
This idea is better understood when put into adult terms. Imagine your reaction if your spouse said to you:
“The bathroom is gross! Will you clean the bathroom!”
“It is time to go. Get into the car!”
We would experience similar inner voices:
“You don’t need to listen to anyone; don’t tell me to clean the bathroom; tell him to clean it himself.”
“You are your own boss and you can do your own thing. You can leave when you want to leave.”
This basic need for independence that all humans possess can compromise children’s ability to listen.
It is helpful then to avoid commands when asking your child to comply. Sometimes giving choices can over ride a child’s natural need to oppose your request.
Instead of saying:
“Get in the car!”
Parents can say:
“Would you like to hop or jump to the car?”
Want to learn more? Schedule an appointment with our therapists
Give us a call at 216-896-0111
(www.asha.org/about/news/tipsheets/Is-your-child-a-poor-listener.htm – retrieved January 16, 2013):