Is There a Way to Discipline a Child Who Just Won’t Listen?

Learn how to discipline a child who won’t listen. These do’s and don’ts of disciplining a child that doesn’t listen can help. Read them on HealthyPlace.

Trying to figure out how to discipline a child that won’t listen is common parenting issue. It can feel like the more you try to get your child to listen, the more stubborn they become. The result is often a stand-off. The greatest casualty is a positive, loving relationship. It doesn’t have to stay this way. There are ways to discipline a child who won’t listen; even better, you can guide them so they listen willingly the first time you need them to do something.

How to Discipline a Child That Won’t Listen: Build a Positive Relationship

The way to get a child to listen has less to do with getting them to follow orders right now and more to do with building the type of parent-child relationship in which kids willingly listen. Of course, you want to stop the negative behavior. To function well, kids must be able to listen to and cooperate with parents, teachers, coaches, and others. The key is in your approach.

Fostering a positive, close relationship with your kids is the best way to deal with negative behavior like not listening. Kids need affection from and positive time with parents. Making some time, even 10 minutes, every day to give your kids your undivided attention, to play with them, to listen to them makes them feel valued, loved, and more willing to listen.

Building a strong relationship with your child allows you to teach and guide them. In addition to getting them to listen, you’ll lead them toward becoming cooperative, listening teenagers and beyond.

See: Do You Really Know How to Discipline Your Child?

How do parents accomplish this? How does a parent use guidance, teaching, and a positive relationship to discipline a child that doesn’t listen?  The following do’s and don’ts of getting kids to listen will help show you the way.

The Do’s of Disciplining a Child Who Won’t Listen  

Think of the following suggestions as a guidebook to help you deal with your child when they choose not to listen. Do:

  • Set clear rules and limits and make sure your child understands; sometimes a “refusal” to listen is really a lack of understanding.
  • Use consistent, logical consequences. Kids need to know what to expect when they don’t listen.
  • Listen to your child’s feelings and ask them kindly rather than in anger what’s going on. Acknowledge their side, and you can still follow through with a consequence.
  • Treat kids with the same respect you expect from them.
  • When you say yes or no or give an order, mean what you say and follow through with it. Inconsistency tells kids they don’t have to listen because you don’t mean what you say.
  • Notice when they listen and cooperate. Reinforce good listening with praise rather than waiting to punish kids for not listening.
  • Allow kids to have a second chance. Do-overs are great teaching tools. You show kids that they can put the brakes on in a negative situation, use coping skills to regroup, and start over in the right direction.

Each of these dos is about you guiding your child to help them become a better listener. Guidance helps your relationship by sending the message that you and your child are on the same side. They do have to listen and cooperate, and this way they’re more willing.

How to Discipline a Child Who Refuses to Listen: The Don’ts

Just as there are helpful things you can do when teaching your child to listen, there are actions to avoid doing. Don’t:

  • Lecture your child about the broken rule and the lack of listening
  • Dwell on them “never” listening, bring up the incidents constantly
  • Punish them but instead give guidance and consequences
  • Belittle your child or try to make them feel bad
  • Add more punishments when one doesn’t work. You’ll end up with a power struggle and lots of punishments that don’t work.
  • Try to be your child’s friend to get them to listen. They need a compassionate parent who gives reasonable limits and follows through.
  • Threaten or yell. Scaring and intimidating don’t encourage listening.

See: How to Discipline a Child Without Hitting or Yelling

Guiding and teaching your kids is a gradual and ultimately successful process. How to discipline a child that won’t listen involves setting clear limits and consequences and working with your kids to help them grow.

Finally, be a role model. Kids watch what parents do, so when we want them to listen, we must model how. Listen to your kids. Give them your full attention. When they ask you to do something, respond immediately. It comes back to connection and relationship. A big part of listening is about showing respect and caring—just like the process of teaching kids to listen.

article references

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2022, January 11). Is There a Way to Discipline a Child Who Just Won’t Listen? , HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 14 from

Last Updated: January 16, 2022

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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