Why Your Child Doesn’t Listen and What You Can Do About It

This is a fairly common complaint. Whether you have a highly sensitive child or not, kids just don’t always listen.

And it’s frustrating.

But if we dissect not listening,  in most cases what we really mean is that our kids aren’t doing what we want them to do.

And that presents the problem.

Because highly sensitive children tend to process things differently. And they may not see things your way. And let’s face it, they march to the beat of their own drum sometimes.

What really want is to get children to cooperate.

Why Kids Don’t Listen

In general, there seems to be 2 main reasons highly sensitive children don’t listen well.

#1 Highly sensitive children are more aware.

Their nervous system and energy picks up things others don’t.

This is why they cry when others don’t. Act out when they see someone else getting disciplined. Throw fits over scratchy clothes and tags.

And it’s also why they may not always listen. Not because they don’t want to. But because they’re picking up on so much other things and processing, that what you’ve told them doesn’t always register right away.

#2 They rely on their own intuition

Which isn’t a bad thing. But it means they don’t always understand why they need to do something we’ve told them.

They may hear you, but they go with their gut instead.

How to Encourage Kids to Cooperate

Set a good example

Be a good listener. When your child wants to talk to you or show you something, give them your undivided attention. Put down the phone. Look at them. Demonstrate that you’ve heard and acknowledged.

You can also set a good example by cooperating. If you don’t feel like the request is a good option, practice voicing your opinion and feelings. Show your child how to verbalize their emotions and objections to what is asked of them.

Know how your child comprehends

If you know that your child needs time to process, work with him on it. For things that are automatic, such as getting ready in the morning, doing homework or doing chores, make it routine as possible to eliminate any decision making. For decisions, limit options. For example, give only 2 options for clothes, allowing your child to pick between one or the other.

If your child is more strong-willed, or stubborn, know that these kids test limits and want to figure things out for themselves. Keep it safe for them to do so, within reason. We don’t want to give them free reign to do whatever they want, but allowing them to feel like they have some control goes a long way. Again, giving your child some choice is a great way to allow him or her some control.

Many (many!) parents complain that their kids just don’t listen. But listening is a physical thing. What we really want from our kids is cooperation. For them to do what we’re asking. Whether your child is highly sensitive or not, processing information they’re given and complying is a skill many kids struggle with. Luckily, if you as the parent can set an example, understand your child and work him or her, you can start to master this cooperation thing.



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  1. This is a great article. It’s a good reminder that it’s normal for kids not to listen sometimes!
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  2. My goodness, this is eye opening. I have always said my child doesn’t listen. And deep down I know that I need to communicate with her a certain way in order to receive cooperation. In the moment, I don’t always remember that. Thank you for this post!

    • Corinne says:

      Hi Diane,
      Thanks for reading. Just understanding “they don’t listen!” in a different perspective is eye opening isn’t it? And yes! It is all about cooperation. I know my kids don’t always do what they’re told, but trust me, they ears work just fine. It’s their brains that are tuning me out 🙂


  3. Hi Corrine,

    It’s great to read your post. I was busy with my projects, that’s the reason I was inactive a bit, specially reading & commenting was completely off.

    But Anyways, Thanks for the interesting & informative read. Keep up the good work and enjoy the holidays.

    A Very Happy New Year Corrine! Cheers

    ~ Donna
    Donna Merrill recently posted…Top 7 Best Electric Griddles for Pancakes 2018My Profile

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