What do I do when children won’t listen to me?


Use your voice in interesting ways and children will listen

Your voice is an amazing tool that can help guide children’s behaviour and remember the loud voice is not always best.

The tone, volume and pitch of your voce can do wonderful things, what happens if you use a soft voice?

A loud voice?

A silly voice?

A crazy voice?

To learn how to use our voice to guide children and gain their attention, try playing Simon Says.

Playing Simon says type games allows educators to work out how to direct and give instructions to children and allows children to learn how to follow instructions from educators.

Simon says is best played with many different tones. Try it to see what works best:

“Simon says hands on knees

Simon says ahnds onnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn……….. head (soft voice)

Simon says

Practice using all types of tone, volume and pitch with silly crazy voices.

Andrew does not listen – what can I do?

“Andrew can you please get down from the table?” says Robyn.

What does Andrew really hear? If Andrew has a receptive language problem, he may only hear “Andrew table.”

You need to slow things down when children have receptive language problems. You may need to use pictures instead of words.

You need to take a deep breath in and work out what the child has actually understood. Communication is only as good as the response it gets.

Did Andrew do what you wanted? No. Therefore, what you are doing is not working. Change it.

Many educators are really bad at this. They just keep using the same communication strategy even though the child does not respond.

Remember, say things in a positive way.

“Andrew (leave time gap so they hear and process you are talking to them), feet on the floor Andrew.” (repeat name again at the end)

The following are simple little things we can do in practice.

I say ‘No’ and they continue doing it

How would you like it if you were yelled at across the room by your mother saying No, No No No. It wouldn’t feel good, and that is why we need to stop using the word No.

There are many ways can you replace the word NO

Imagine we are working away and a Child request something that can’t happen now. If we say no, and it’s a part of our everyday practice the child starts to give up and won’t even bother. So here are some great strategies to use instead of saying No

Can you read me a story please? Say Annabelle

Yes, I can, before I come over to read you the story look through all the pages to find your favourite picture.

Remember to look at all the pages and all the pictures. When I am finished with Jackson, we will look at the book together and I’ll read you the story. Or, if you want, you could come over here first and help me with the cleaning. Then we will can read a story later.

When we are transition from different spaces children may not want to cooperate with your request. For example, “I want to play on the fort” and you have just moved the children into the room for lunch. Great, you can play on the fort this afternoon, Let’s race to the door now: ready, steady, go. Let’s run!

You are just about to finish your shift and Eve says “I want to make a cake. Good idea. We can bake a cake on Wednesday once I can get everything we need. Can you ask your mum for some recipes when you are home tonight so we can get organized for Wednesday Cake Making Day?

I want to play for longer! Of course you can, five more minutes, one minute, thirty seconds, one more turn, any little amount of time to a child is better than saying ‘No’.

Eve is Angry and just ignores me

Sometimes we need to Break the negative mood with laughter.

As Laughter can be the best medicine

WE may need to Tickle children.

Chase children in a fun way with lots of laughs.

Make fun out of it. Shake loose a smile.

Be lighthearted and have some fun.

Put on the laughter music

Children get angry if you don’t listen to them, this is called stonewalling.

We need to assist children to express their feelings with time, empathy and support. Time means stopping and really listening to what children have to say, not just rushing through a room and saying “that’s nice dear” as we keep walking. When we listen, we are saying “I can hear you, I understand you.”

Ask questions

When children don’t listen to you, continually ask questions. When they answer the question they are showing you they know what to do ad are capable of doing it.

Educator: What do you have to do to serve morning tea?

Child: Get the trolly

Educator: What do you have to do before you get the trolly?

Child: Pack away

Educator: who could help you pack away?

Child: Ethan and Jack

Educator: Great, when Ethan and Jack have helped you pack away, what do you do next?

Child: Get everyone in to read a book


Ask questions all day. Try it, it makes children think about time and the sequence of events.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *