Tired of Yelling and Nagging? Get Kids to Listen With 3 Simple Communication Strategies

Written By

Jess VanderWier
November 15, 2017

This article has been reviewed by Nurtured First’s team of child development experts.

This post gives parents and people who work with children techniques on how to talk so that kids will listen (without yelling and nagging!). 

Communication is something that we have learned from our own parents, family, and others in our environment throughout our lives. Because of this long learning history it can be difficult to change our communication patterns. This is one of the main reasons why we are doing this series! This series is providing you with simple ways that you can change your communication patterns, to help you improve the relationships with those that you love!

Encourage child to express their own opinion

Disagreeing with your child’s opinion can often be a source of frustration for both the caregiver and the child. Often times differing opinions lead to arguments and power struggles. Over time, kids may no longer feel comfortable communicating their own opinions if they feel that they will be judged or rebuked by their parents if they disagree. 

In order to foster healthy and open communication with your child (even when you disagree with them) consider the following questions:

“Would I want to be my child?”

“Would I want to be treated the same way?”

“Would I feel comfortable if someone talked to me this way?”

Encourage your child to express their opinion, by allowing them to fully finish their thought without interuption. It is important to remember that allowing your child to express their opinion does not mean you need to agree with it! If you do disagree with their opinion, calmly and rationally explain your reasoning. 

If you disagree with what your child is saying, try using this guideline when responding:

I hear you are feeling  ______ (summarize what your child has said to you), I feel ______ (calmly explain your feeling on the situation), can we please ______ (work to come up with a solution that you both agree with for the future).

By responding calmly to their different opinion, you are teaching your child how they can respond with others in their life who may think differently. You are teaching your child that you do not need to agree on everything, but you can always listen to someone else’s opinion respectfully. The more you listen to your child, the more they will listen to you! Alternatively, the more you interrupt and yell at your children during disagreements, the more they will interrupt and yell at you.

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A happy family of four enjoying time together at an amusement park. The photo captures a close-up of a smiling woman on the left and a beaming man on the right, both facing each other. They are looking lovingly at their two young sons, who are nestled between them. The older boy is grinning broadly and the younger one has a cheeky smile. The background is softly focused, with lights from carnival rides subtly illuminating the scene.

Follow through with the expectations you set out for your child

If you have been reading the blog for awhile, you may remember that we talked about this a few months ago in this post. That post only briefly talked about expectation setting, and we thought it would be helpful to go into more detail about this, as it is a very important part of healthy communication!

Children should know what is expected of them and what the consequences will be for either meeting or not meeting the expectation, BEFORE they are in a situation where they normally misbehave.

By setting out expectations BEFORE the behaviour, the child knows exactly what you are looking for and what they can expect if they do not meet your expectation. 

Try using the following steps to communicate your expectations:

Clearly explain the behaviour you don’t want to see.

Explain the behavior you want to see.

Explain the consequences for both behaviours.

Follow through with consequences.

Communicating your plan to your child does wonders in reducing challenging behaviour. But most importantly, FOLLOWING THROUGH with that plan will help reduce your temptation to yell and nag! When children know what is expected, they feel a sense of safety and security.

If you want your child to listen to you when you state your expectations, you need to follow through! Even when your child is yelling and making a scene, follow through.  As you consistently follow through with what you say, your child will learn that you mean what you are saying and will start to listen to you!

Use “I FEEL” statements when you are feeling strong emotions

When you use an “I feel” statement instead of yelling, you are modelling healthy communication! (If you don’t know what modelling is, make sure you check out the first post in this series!)

Essentially, children are always watching us and are little sponges soaking up everything that we do! Every time you choose to express your strong emotions (anger, frustration, sadness) in a calm and clear manner, you are teaching your child how to effectively talk about difficult things.

When you model healthy communication you are teaching your child how to calmly and respectfully talk to you! Your child will be much more likely to listen to you when you talk in this way consistently!

Try this statement to express your emotions: I feel ______, when you ______, could you please______. 

I feel frustrated when you ignore me, could you please look at me when I am talking to you?

I feel concerned when you forget to tell me you are going out after school, could you please let me know where you are going next time?

I feel angry when you leave your clothes all over the floor, could you please put your clothes away next time?

I feel sad when you say hurtful things to me, I need to go for a walk to help me calm down.   

Take home message

Today we talked about three simple ways that you can increase positive and healthy communication with your child! Using these tips will help you build great relationships with the children in your life and will help you teach valuable communication skills to your little ones!

The tips we talked about today are:

  1. Encourage children to express their own opinions.
  2. Follow through with what you say. 
  3. Use I FEEL statements when you are feeling a strong emotion.

Try using these simple changes in your communication, along with the ones that we posted about last week!

If you want to know more strategies that will help you get your kids to listen without yelling or nagging check out this post, and this post!

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    Article By

    Jess VanderWier
    Jess is a seasoned Registered Psychotherapist with a deep commitment to enhancing emotional well-being in children and families. Holding a Master's in Counselling Psychology, Jess has extensive clinical experience in guiding parents through their children's intense emotions, sleep struggles, anxiety, and other challenges with empathy and understanding. In addition to individual sessions, she is known for her work educating parents on social media through @nurturedfirst. Outside of her professional life, Jess enjoys the peace of nature hikes and spending as much time as possible enjoying her family.