How old should a child be to "listen" to you?

Katherine - posted on 05/24/2011 ( 24 moms have responded )




I'm reading all of these posts like, "My 12 month old doesn't listen to me," "My 17mo doesn't listen to me." How old do you think a child should BE to actually LISTEN?

And do you think it's partly the parents fault for not paying attention? For example: One post says that the mother is on the phone all of the time and her daughter talks to her. She tells her daughter to be quiet but the daughter gets louder (she's 4)

Are parents doing enough with their kids?


Amie - posted on 05/24/2011




It takes time. I have never understood the mentality that a child will know right off the hop every thing you say to him/her. It takes years for a toddler to understand all of things you say to him/her. Even then, they don't always want to listen. They do have minds of their own and do want to explore and learn.

Manners also take time - mine have learned that if I'm on the phone to zip it until I'm done unless it's an emergency. I don't spend gobs of time on the phone anyway.

You repeat, repeat, repeat until you're blue in the face. Then you repeat it some more and eventually they learn. Modeling the behavior helps them too. Again with the phone example, when others are on the phone I tell them they need to shh and wait, so and so is on the phone. I remain as quiet as I can during that time as well.

Kate CP - posted on 05/24/2011




I really think it depends on the kid and what's going on at the time. But yea, I agree with JuLeah's statement: "When people say "My kid doesn't listen" what they often mean is; my kid doesn't obey..."

And no, I don't think parents do enough with their kids.

JuLeah - posted on 05/24/2011




When people say "My kid doesn't listen" what they often mean is; my kid doesn't obey.
There might be many reasons for this. The woman with the 9 month old that refused to do anything she was told, to the folks that attempt rational logic and in depth conversations with an overtired hungry toddler, to the teen angry about something that storms out the door.
Kids have to be taught how to listen, and even if they hear you, they might not obey.
I see parents all the time not listening to their kids and not understanding that they are teaching their kid how to listen in that moment.
Our kids are often a mirror for us. What they do and say is what they have seen and heard.
I understood this fully when my three yr old called another driver an asshole and screamed at him "learn to drive"
I couldn't even pretend she got that from TV cause Elmo doesn't talk like that.
Kids want to please, make us happy, do what we do. They are listening to us even before they are born.

Johnny - posted on 05/24/2011




Juleah & Amie, you are both dead on IMO. Many people do not seem to have the slightest grasp of reasonable expectations for developmental stages. That does not mean that children should not be taught discipline, but it takes time, patience, repetition, understanding, listening (by the parent), and perseverance. I'm constantly reminding my husband (and myself) that my daughter will only learn good behavior if she sees it modeled in us. If you act like a twit, so will your kid.

Oh, and I still don't listen to my parents & I'm 34. What the heck are these parents thinking? They're kids not robots.


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[deleted account]

My kid never hits because she's perfect! She always listens and obeys my every word. I'm awesome!

Katherine - posted on 05/25/2011




JuLeah always has intelligent and inspiring things to say.

I always taught my children gentle from a VERY early age so they would not hit. It took months but the turn out was now they are gentle when I give them the cue.

[deleted account]

I completely agree with JuLeah!

There are so many factors into why a child does or doesn't listen and follow instructions. A huge part of that is environmental and more specifically, what that child sees on a regular basis. Listening and following instruction is a learned behaviour, and other factors aside, children need someone to teach them appropriate behaviour.

Bonnie - posted on 05/25/2011




I am assuming we are talking about children here, not adults lol because i'm sure many of us as adults don't listen to what our parents say. I feel 3 years is a good age for children to start listening.

Kimberly - posted on 05/25/2011




my nurse just came by yesterday gave me this wonderful video on how to have a happy toddler, it puts a new perspective on how to toddlers behave. people think there young adults, instead think of toddlers as little cave men lol its sounds dorky but listen, they grunt and make noises to talk, when they get mad they throw things and scream, they have primitive launguage skills, you know the saying they went ape s*** well thats where it comes from. you need to let them know there feelings are understood and heard before you try to explain your wants. you have to ge on there level and copy them so they understand that you understand how they feel. if they throw a temper tantrum,put words to how they feel and say it how they feel. then when they have calmed down tell them what you want in very short words. i want outside, i want outside. no we cant go outside, but we can play in here for a bit longer. something of that nature. it works for me since i started doing that even with my 8 month old. lol

Elizabeth - posted on 05/24/2011




After a couple of weeks training, my little one consistently follows the directions of "let go of mommy's hair." Or he did until this post. I'm sure I just cursed myself.

A parent is responsible for getting to know the child, approaching them with respect for their individuality, understanding the ways of a child of their children's age, and showing patience and persistence, and experimenting if a technique doesn't work if its been given a true chance.
I believe that in most cases, if a child does not follow directions regularly the reason is that the parent has not discovered the proper method of child rearing that fits their child.

Parents also need to keep in mind that children have regular periods of testing boundaries. It is natural and healthy. It is our job to set the boundaries and keep them firm.

Stifler's - posted on 05/24/2011




You get all these people like "I'm not babyproofing my house my kids will learn not to touch stuff and not go in the cupboard with bleach in it!"..... prepare to lose your valuables if they're not put up high because even teens can't grasp NO sometimes.

Katherine - posted on 05/24/2011




I think JuLeah put it better. By listening I mean obey. How old do you expect your child to be to "obey?" The little ones don't have the capacity IMO and the older ones (4 in the example) I think just want the mother's attention plain and simple.

***Edit to add what Johnny said about developmental stages, some parents get so overwhelmed they don't think these things through.

Elfrieda - posted on 05/24/2011




What do you mean by "listen"? Even as newborns, our babies are listening to us. I started teaching some level of obedience from about 8 or 9 months with my son. He had just started to crawl, and there were things he was not allowed to touch (my books and the fireplace) and he needed to learn how to treat the cat. I didn't expect him to do the right thing, but I taught it anyway. It was so exciting when he learned! (not that I would leave him alone next to the fireplace, because he USUALLY obeyed, not ALWAYS)

I am constantly surprised at how much my 17 month old understands when I talk to him or to my husband. It's so fun! So he's listening... I guess eventually he'll talk, too!

I'm determined not to have a spoiled brat. That doesn't mean I harden my heart against my child and expect unreasonable things, but I work with him to encourage the good behaviours and prevent or punish the bad ones.

[deleted account]

Jacob is like Jekyll & Hyde lately. One part of the day he's this sweet, compliant, pleasant little boy and then seemingly without cause, he turns into a monster. That's his age and toddler-hood though. I think in order for a child to truly learn to listen to us, we have to be willing to listen to THEM first. Kind of like teaching manners by having good manners ourselves. At 3 years old, my son puts a napkin in his lap because I do it. He'll learn to listen because I listen to him. If I'm busy and he needs something, I always make time to hear what he has to say. But there are days.......when I'm positive I must be speaking French or something lol

[deleted account]

My kids say no all the time. When they do i ask why, If it's a good enough reason as to why they can't then they don't have to do it right away but the task will be waiting.
I expect my 4 and a half yr old to listen and majority of the time she does but my 2 almost 3 year old has a bit more leeway, I tend to talk to him more and try to reason with him so he understands why i need him to do it. Which is mighty difficult with a determined little boy. I was frustrated yesterday when the kids got hom from their fathers place because as soon as they walked in the door they were telling me how the 2yr old got a smack. I asked what for and apparently it was because he wouldn't help pick up. I was so mad when i heard that because the 2 yr old understands when he is naughty and it's easy enough to take time or something away from him. Sorry rant over.

Minnie - posted on 05/24/2011




Hmmm...I don't expect first time obedience all the time. I guess it depends on the child. And perhaps once they're old enough, maybe things can be negotiated. I don't see a need to 'win' on things.

If my five and two and a half year old don't comply with a request and it really needs to be done I help them do it.

They're individuals. We also let them say 'no' to us. Gasp!

♏*PHOENIX*♏ - posted on 05/24/2011




to listen and comply at least 3-4years old
but even know my 14month old does understand certain words i say to him, but he does what he wants 95% of the time

Sharon - posted on 05/24/2011




I never had to spank my kids just to get them to listen. Redirection worked the best.

At 4yrs, the child should be following the simple directions of NOT NOW, Quiet Please, etc. Thats the mother failing. In the end (from what I read here) she gives the kid what they want. Attention.

Amie - posted on 05/24/2011




Ya, you could take that route too I suppose but I don't spank. =/ My kids still listen.

Katherine - posted on 05/24/2011




This particular woman was so frustrated she was spanking and yelling at her child. I get frustrated too, but damn!

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