Help For Parents ~ Selective Hearing

“What about when they say, “I didn’t hear you” as their reason/excuse for not following instructions…but you think they must have?” 

This is a classic!  It is either one of two things.  Either your child really didn’t hear you, or she just lied to try to make the reason she didn’t follow instructions look like your fault instead of hers. 

         If you are constantly hearing this excuse for instructions not being followed, then you should first ask yourself, “Did I make eye contact with my child when I gave the instruction?’  If you have a habit of yelling instructions through the house, then you have no way of knowing if the child really did hear you or not.  I would have a child come to you first, then give an instruction.  This is what I do to make sure I only have to give instructions once, thus more effectively teach my child to follow instructions. 

        After  you have called the child to you, look right at them and say,  ” I am going to give you an instruction.  I need you to go put all the books neatly back on the shelf.  OK?”  If they know how to follow instructions, then they know they need to look at you, to show they understand the instruction, stay calm, say OK to commit to do the instruction, do the task immediately, and then check back to inform you they have followed your instruction. 

        So, the answer to your problem could be as easy as making sure your child does the first step to following instructions.  If they don’t look at you, then they are not really following  instructions.  Not looking at you, earns an extra chore because it is part of following instructions.  I usually don’t waste my breath giving an instruction if they don’t even do the first step. 

        It is helpful for some very small children to touch your hand or something to keep them looking at you when they talk to you. 

      If you gave an instruction, and your child says they didn’t hear you, but you are sure they did, then they are being dishonest.  In my family dishonesty earns 30 minutes of work time.  I automatically do a corrective teaching for their not choosing to communicate honestly, and they do their 30 minutes of work time either right then, or at play time. 

      Warning!  If you really don’t know if they heard you or not, then it could be bad to accuse.  You don’t want to seem unfair to your child.  Fairness matters to children.  Life isn’t fair, but to a child, a parent who doesn’t do his research can’t be trusted.  Your child will feel disconnected from you.  This could ruin the Spirit in your home. 

        I would just make sure you are making eye contact when instructions are given and that they know eye contact is part of following an instruction too. 

       Great Question!

Recently my husband and I were featured on the KJZZ Morning Show in Utah for two segments on Following Instructions.  Here are the links to the segments: First segment     Second segment

For more free parenting tips or for Nicholeen’s parenting book go to

5 thoughts on “Help For Parents ~ Selective Hearing

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention New post: Help For Parents ~ Selective Hearing --

  2. Nicholeen you are right about having children look at you as you give them instructions. When I taught elementary school I would say,”All eyes on me” when I would give directions. I would then randomly select a couple of kids to repeat back what I had just said. Doing this encouraged my students to really listen to me, because I might call on them. Also if anyone was not clear on the instruction the first time around, they had another chance to hear it. After making this system a common practice, I think I helped the kids to learn to “hear and remember” what a teacher was telling them to do.

    Thanks for the post and the reminders. I always enjoy your posts.

  3. Great reminder on asking to have instructions repeated back. That is a great additional step to giving an instruction to make sure the instruction is completely understood. Thanks for sharing your experience too. 🙂

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