Publication date January 3, 2024

7 Proven Steps to Get Your 5-Year-Old to Listen Without Yelling

5-year-old behavior problems not listening

Do you also sometimes feel as if your child doesn’t hear what you’re saying, or outright ignores you? Do you often find yourself repeating something many times to the point of exhaustion and, inevitably, exasperation?

Communication is a cornerstone of healthy child development, yet facing the challenges of raising a 5-year-old listener can feel like navigating a dense jungle. While children ignore instructions and selective hearing is common at this age, persistent communication difficulties can be a source of frustration for both parents and children.

We understand that it can feel a bit too much at times, but what’s most important is to remember that these listening difficulties are often a normal part of development. The key is to distinguish whether it's a natural phase or a sign of needing additional support. 

This blog will give you a comprehensive understanding of the potential reasons behind why your 5-year-old does not listen as well as 7 proven steps to get your child to listen without yelling.

Why My 5-Year-Old Doesn’t Listen 

You might be facing times when even the teeniest of requests in the most gentle tone of voice can get ignored by your kid, and you can’t seem to be able to fathom the reason. It happens with most parents and, indeed, It is not always easy to get children to follow instructions, even if you have set consistent boundaries their whole life, they will still go through times of not following what you said.

However, that’s not always the case, sometimes your 5-year-old child doesn’t understand what you’re asking them to do. Maybe they are overwhelmed by the rules at school or may have an undiagnosed vision or hearing problem that makes it difficult for them to follow along in class, as well as at home. 

How will you know if it is not a normal thing but something to worry about? Here are a few signs, that might be pointing to an underlying problem. 

  • Your 5-year-old child acts aggressively at home and school. 
  • Your child frequently interrupts conversations between other people. 
  • Your child often talks back to you or ignores what you say. 
  • You have issues getting your child's attention and controlling what they say and do. 
  • Your child is mostly irritable. 
  • When you correct your kid they seem unaffected by it and behave as if your words don't apply to them.

Aside from these given points, keep in mind that there’s a difference between choosing not to listen and not being able to listen based on where your child is in their development. 

It’s normal for 5-year-olds to be more strong-willed and opinionated than they were at 4 years old, especially when they're just learning how to navigate their world.

If you face a situation where your child isn’t listening to what you’re saying, don’t rush immediately to blame them or call them defiant, try to understand why your child is not paying attention first. 

Steps to Get Kids to Listen

So now that you know a few reasons why a child might not listen, how do you get your 5-year-old child to pay attention to what you are saying? Here are 7 steps that you can follow for nurturing good listening skills.

1. Get down to their level

Communicating with 5 year old

The first step to getting your child to pay attention to what you’re saying is getting down to their level and asking them to look directly at you while you’re speaking to each other. This is a great way to not only make sure you have your child’s full attention but also to teach your child good manners and to listen in a respectful way when someone is speaking to him.

2. Listen to what your child has to say 

Similar to other behaviors, your 5-year-old child will learn how to listen properly by following the example you set. If you listen to your children when they speak, they will be more likely to do the same when you talk to them. 

3. Find out why they're not paying attention to you 

One of the main steps, think about the potential reasons why your child is not paying attention to you. Do you ask them to do something too hard for them to handle on their own? Are they having a problem doing something you ask because they’re tired or cranky? Look for what is the reason behind their behavior instead of dismissing it as your child not being respectful, purposefully being defiant, or ignoring you.

4. Stay calm 

No matter how irritating is maybe when your child does not listen try to stay calm as you guide your child and avoid shouting or speaking in an angry tone. But why? There are two big reasons, one when you get angry you’re showing your kid that you’re not in control and that they can push your buttons. Another reason is while yelling might make your child pay attention to what you’re saying in the short term, it will ultimately lose its effectiveness over time. 

5. Explain it's not respectful 

Teach your 5-year-old that not listening or ignoring someone when they’re saying something to you is not a nice way to treat people. 

6. Add a little fun

If you’re constantly trying to get your kids to listen, but getting no results, change the dynamic of your interactions by lightening things up a bit. For instance, if you are irritated by your child dawdling and not being able to get ready for school on time, use clock timers to see who can win a race to the door and reward them with something they want if they can get ready on time for a week or more. Use your creative imagination to encourage their cooperation instead of making demands.

7. Be patient

When you’re in the process of getting your 5-year-old child to listen, keep in mind that building good communication habits is a process that can take a long time to develop. Instead of expecting your kid to always obey you the first time you say something, look at his listening skills as part of building an important foundation that will help you and your child develop a strong relationship in the years to come.

How to Build a Stronger Connection With your 5-Year-Old

When you feel like you’re getting nowhere with getting your five-year-old to behave, remind yourself that it all comes down to your relationship with your child. Instead of trying to hurriedly correct your child’s behavior, focus on improving and strengthening your relationship with him, and eventually, it will all fall into place. 

But how exactly will you do that? Well, here are a few tips that might help: 

  • Offer a gentle touch. There’s magic in those cuddles and kisses that can strengthen the bond between you and your child.
  • Take your time to listen and understand to your child. If children feel like they are heard and understood, they will be more open to your ideas and give more attention to what you say. 
  • Spend time with your child. Make some time every day when the two of you just chill and play where there are no lectures, no instructions, just pure fun. 
  • Be available for your kid. It’s challenging especially if you are juggling work and parenthood, but try your best to make it happen. 
  • Set family time rituals. It could be a movie every weekend or a pizza dinner night every month or even just an ice-cream run on a Sunday. 

I’m sure now you know how to get kids to listen and when you follow these gentle parenting practices with love and affection, you are more than halfway there to get your 5-year-old to listen and behave- without the yelling!

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q Why does my 5-year-old not listen to me?

Your 5-year-old doesn’t listen to you maybe because they’re experiencing certain normal developmental changes that make it harder for them to pay attention. Your child’s developing brains simply haven't yet mastered the ability to focus for extended periods, especially on something they don't find inherently interesting or they may not be able to fully understand complex instructions that you’re giving.

Q. How do you discipline a 5-year-old who won't listen?

It's important to avoid focusing on "discipline" when your 5-year-old child isn't listening, as this often involves punishment which can create a negative impact on them. Instead, you should focus on positive strategies to guide your child toward better listening habits. 

Q. How to get a 3-year-old to listen?

While 3-year-olds are a whirlwind of wonder and exploration, their world is still learning how to listen and process information. However, here are some tips you can consider to get your child to listen: 

  • Stay calm
  • Be direct
  • Give instructions positively
  • Give one instruction at a time
  • Give age-appropriate instructions
  • Be physically available
  • Ask the child to repeat the instruction

Q. Why does my 4-year-old not listen?

It can be sometimes frustrating to understand why your 4-year-old is not listening, but remember it’s often a normal part of their development process.  Your child’s developing brains simply haven't yet mastered the ability to focus for extended periods, and they may not be able to fully understand the complex instructions that you’re giving.

Also Read:

10 Easy & Fun Activities For a 9-Month-Old Baby

How to Talk About Difficult Topics with Your Children

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