*at first glance, this post may appear as a duplicate of my last one. while it looks similar, the differences here are very important. this is geared towards children with ADHD or anxiety. thank you!*

How often do you as a parent become frustrated with your child’s “selective hearing,” and not listening when you speak? How often have you given thought to the fact that to become an effective listener is a learned/developed skill?

It is important to remind ourselves that children with ADHD and Anxiety disorders have trouble focusing, and concentrating.  Yes, they are children first, so sometimes their hearing is definitely “selective”.  However, the difficulty with hearing what is being said is often a function of their diagnosis.

Children with Anxiety disorders often have difficulty with focusing, concentrating and listening, because their mind is often taken over by their thoughts and feelings.  There is no room to process or store any other information. Children with ADHD have difficulty with being effective listeners because they are easily distracted.  This makes it hard for them to focus, concentrate, and listen effectively.

How would you like to be responsible for and play a paramount role in your child truly becoming an effective listener?  Someone who hears and cares about what others say?

Do you want to have more efficient communication with your kids; especially have them listen to what you are saying?  What follows are some strategies you can use to assist them in developing effective listening skills.

  1. Lead by example. Our children learn more from watching us than from us telling them what to do. Be (an active) good listener yourself. When you are listening to them or others, let your kids witness you being completely attentive and focused on what they are saying. Put your phone and all other devices down.  No multi-tasking allowed.
  2. Make your instructions, wants, needs, and expectations of them clear.
  3. Be concise. Less is more! For kids of all ages, there are benefits to keeping your instructions to no more than three steps. This is beneficial for younger children because they cannot process too much information at one time. Tweens and teens without these diagnoses shut you out after the first sentence because you are interrupting, and interfering with whatever they’re doing. Additionally, the truth is, to this age group your voice sounds like nails on a chalkboard.  Having one or both of these diagnoses adds an extra layer to the difficulty of tweens and teens being effective listeners.  As stated earlier, they naturally strive to shut us out, and their difficulties with focus, concentration, and listening overall make it extra complicated to communicate effectively with them.
  4. It is imperative to make certain you have children’s attention. Approach them and tell them you need to talk to them. Ask them to pause their electronics, turn down the radio, etc.  Whenever possible, position yourself so when they look at you, they are automatically making eye contact.  Make sure they are focused on what you are saying.
  5. Ask your children to repeat what you just said. This activity allows you to be sure they heard you and understood your expectations. It also allows you the chance to clarify something, should you realize the need to do so.
  6. If you feel that your children are not listening, don’t waste your time, energy, or breath. Simply walk away and try again later. Doing this allows you to reduce your frustration or stress level. It becomes a win/win situation for all involved.
  7. In those times that you need their attention NOW, start out by saying something like, “I am sorry to interrupt or bother you, but I need your attention for two minutes.” Approaching them in this way makes them more likely to stop what they are doing and listen to you at that moment.

Remember:  Effective listening is a learned skill.  It is learned over time and takes practice.  It is important to remind yourself that part of your child’s difficulty with developing effective listening skills is a direct result of his/her diagnosis.  Be kind and patient with yourself and your children, as you assist them with learning and developing this important communication skill.