Campbell Fiver Family Network

Listening to what you do, not what to you say…

Why does it seem as though when we tell our kids what to do, especially repeatedly, we find they either ignore us or defiantly protest? A never ending cycle of conflict.

Times of transition, moving from one activity to another, are often difficult for most kids. Getting ready for school/child care in the morning, coming home again, meal times, homework, chores and bedtime routines are classic conditions for kids to “not listen”. Usually whenever we want them to do things, and especially without warning or preparation, kids find being successful as difficult as an adult would without having fair warning about being expected to start work or begin a meal or go to bed. I think we sometimes take for granted what kids should know about their day, and expectations and forget they need us to scaffold their early experiences around routines in an age appropriate way.

Are we expecting children to listen merely to our voices when they are to do things? Or are we settling them up for success with tools and strategies for meeting expectations? As adults, we use many means to keep organized. Alarm clocks, calendars, to do lists, and tracking time are a few strategies off the top of the list. Very young children, of course, are not able to do many of these things, however we can encourage basic understanding, which will enable development for them to eventually use these skills.



1. Give five minute warnings before ending activities, and use eye contact to convey the message. When children are approaching and learning telling the time use the clock as a reference often.

2. Talk about what is going to happen at the start of the day, after lunch and even next for young kids, or the next day and next week if children are older.

3. Set timers for limited activities like video games or phone calls, and when they are older they can set the timers.

4. Put the family calendar on the kids level and reference it regularly.

5. Older kids may benefit from a morning alarm clock.

With any luck, and a little consistency we may find our kids eventually find the independence to not need the nagging we so hate to do anyway!

by Rhonda Teramura

Early Childhood Development Supervisor

Campbell Fiver Family Network